Oakland mayor Sheng Thao said Wednesday night the city is "ceasing negotiations" with the Athletics after the team signed a binding purchase agreement for a potential major league ballpark site in Las Vegas.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that the A's deal is to buy 49 acres of land, owned by Red Rock Resorts, north of the Raiders' Allegiant Stadium and just across Interstate 15 from the Golden Knights' T-Mobile Arena. Also, the Nevada Independent cited sources in reporting that the A's are "closing in" on an agreement to build a $1 billion baseball stadium, with the team covering the costs for a 30,000-to-35,000-seat retractable-roof stadium, on the site.
Mayor Thao released a statement to The San Francisco Chronicle's Sarah Ravani shortly after news of the A's binding agreement broke.
The A's also issued a statement, calling it "a difficult day for our Oakland fans and community" and that the news of their impending Vegas move is "very hard to hear" for some.
"For more than 20 years, the A’s have focused on securing a new home for the club, and have invested unprecedented time and resources for the past six years to build a ballpark in Oakland," the team said in its statement. "Even with support from fans, leaders at the city, county, and state level, and throughout the broader community, the process to build a new ballpark in Oakland has made little forward progress for some time. We have made a strong and sincere effort to stay here.
"We recognize that this is very hard to hear. We are disappointed that we have been unable to achieve our shared vision of a waterfront ballpark. As we shift our focus to Vegas, we will continue to share details about next steps."
A's president Dave Kaval told the Review-Journal that if MLB approves relocation and the Nevada legislative process goes well, the team could break ground on its new ballpark in 2024 and play its first season there in 2027. That could mean an undetermined number of lame-duck seasons in Oakland at the Coliseum, where the A's have a lease through the 2024 season.
"That’s the current plan right now," Kaval said. "Obviously things need to fall into place … but I think that is an achievable timeline right now."
That timeline, of course, no longer involves Oakland, which had discussed a $1 billion waterfront ballpark at Howard Terminal, near Jack London Square, since Kaval joined the A's in 2016. The Oakland City Council approved a non-binding term sheet in July 2021, but both sides couldn't resolve outstanding issues.
Now, Kaval and MLB commissioner Rob Manfred are voicing their singular commitment to the Las Vegas move.
“For a while we were on parallel paths [with Oakland], but we have turned our attention to Las Vegas to get a deal here for the A’s and find a long-term home," Kaval told the Review-Journal. “Oakland has been a great home for us for over 50 years, but we really need this 20-year saga completed and we feel there’s a path here in Southern Nevada to do that.”
Added Manfred in a statement to the Review-Journal: “We support the A’s turning their focus on Las Vegas and look forward to them bringing finality to this process by the end of the year."
The A's have called Oakland home since 1968, when they moved from Kansas City, Mo., but their exit would leave the city without any professional sports teams. Oakland had three pro teams as recently as 2019, before the Warriors moved to San Francisco that year and the Raiders also left the Coliseum for Las Vegas one year later.
A’s home attendance dwindled as relocation rumors swirled and ownership traded away star players, with just 10,926 average fans at the Coliseum in 11 games thus far this season. The A’s averaged just 9,973 fans in 2022 and 8,767 in 2021 – well below the 20,521 average the team posted in 2019.