Oakland A’s: Is relocation just an idle threat?

OAKLAND, CA - MAY 07: General view of a faulty light tower in left field before the game between the Oakland Athletics and the Cincinnati Reds at the Oakland Coliseum on May 7, 2019 in Oakland, California. The Oakland Athletics defeated the Cincinnati Reds 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - MAY 07: General view of a faulty light tower in left field before the game between the Oakland Athletics and the Cincinnati Reds at the Oakland Coliseum on May 7, 2019 in Oakland, California. The Oakland Athletics defeated the Cincinnati Reds 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images) /
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It was inevitable that Major League Baseball would become involved in the Oakland A’s ongoing quest to get a new stadium. The team had been attempting to get a new ballpark for nigh on two decades, with the project continuing in fits and starts. Relocation had been threatened before, with Fremont and San Jose listed as possibilities, but nothing had come of those threats.

This time, MLB has given their express approval for the A’s to look for another location. If the plans for a stadium at Howard Terminal are not approved by the city, the A’s could move for the third time in franchise history, heading to somewhere that will build them a ballpark with such amenities as working plumbing.

Relocating the Oakland A’s may be an idle threat

That is the sword that hangs over the city as they determine whether or not to fork over $11 billion for the construction of this ballpark and the development of the surrounding area. But is this really something that the A’s would do?

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It is somewhat telling that it was Major League Baseball, and not the A’s themselves, who spurred relocation talk this time. But it is also interesting that this is the battle the league is willing to fight when the Rays are in a much worse situation and are dealing with a city that seemingly has no desire to compromise or really engage in discussion.

That is not the case in Oakland. The A’s have had discussions with the mayor and the city council, which had seemed to be moving in the right direction. That was until their proposal came with a much higher price tag than the city expected, causing the Howard Terminal train to grind to a halt for the time being.

Maybe that proposal gets approved, and the A’s get their new stadium in Oakland. The threat of the A’s moving, so soon after the Raiders packed up, could spur the city into action to keep the team. Or maybe they call the league’s bluff, letting them test those waters as cities are coming out of the pandemic.

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Major League Baseball is willing to let the Oakland A’s leave town. The question is whether or not they will actually do so or if this is just a threat.

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