As reported by Defense World last night, Oakland Athletics owner John Fisher has sold 1.5 million shares of The Gap stock in two separate transactions on Dec 7 and Dec 8, netting him roughly $35 million. The shares were sold for an average of $21.54 per share.
There are a number of reasons why Fisher might be selling stock in his company, but there's clearly some speculation going to be made by Athletics fans about what the money will be for.
As reported by the SF Chronicle last week, the city of Oakland has come out and claimed that because Fisher has officially gotten approval from the league for the Las Vegas relocation, that has triggered a clause in the Coliseum purchase agreement that Fisher will have to pay the city the outstanding $45 million left in the deal. The due date for the $45 million lump sum payment owed to the city is May 14.
While the Athletics were phased out of MLB's revenue sharing program in the final years of the old Collective Bargaining Agreement, they were put back into the program with the adoption of the new CBA signed prior to the 2022 season.
The Athletics were reportedly receiving in the neighborhood of $30 million annually in the previous program, though the exact figures are unknown. If we assume that the revenue sharing recipients are receiving roughly the same amount now, or slightly more, that means that Fisher will have a check coming to him from the league for maybe $30-$35 million.
Fisher has been open about the Athletics losing money on an annual basis, which is pretty clearly a lie. But if the fact remains that their cash reserves are much lower than that of other comparable teams, then Fisher could be expecting to use his revenue sharing check, along with an infusion of cash from The Gap's stock sales, to finance that final Coliseum payment to the city of Oakland.
There's also the possibility that Fisher is planning on using the funds to help finance the Las Vegas relocation project. Though there are currently no updated ballpark renderings, Fisher did receive approval from the league to move forward with the project back in November.
Fisher's deal with the city of Vegas involves building a stadium at the site of the Tropicana Hotel, which sits on a small plot of land just off the Vegas strip. The Athletics are currently allocated a 9-acre plot on which they're tasked with building a major league stadium. There is still much to be decided in the relocation process, including the resolution of the Schools Over Stadiums led ballot initiative that aims to revoke the public financing currently provided to Fisher and the Athletics by the Nevada state legislature.
It's unlikely that Athletics fans will get a clear answer about why Fisher has sold off a decent chunk of his shares in The Gap. Despite that, there will be plenty of speculation about it for the foreseeable future.