John Fisher still does not have a financing plan for Las Vegas ballpark

John Fisher's Oakland A's are looking for outside investors to finance Las Vegas move
Oakland Athletics v Pittsburgh Pirates
Oakland Athletics v Pittsburgh Pirates / Justin K. Aller/GettyImages

According to a report from Bill Shaikin of the LA Times, John Fisher and the Oakland Athletics have hired a firm called Galatioto Sports Partners to help attract an investor, or investors, to secure upwards of $500 million to help build their new stadium in Las Vegas.

As it stands, the A's have $380 million currently allocated for the project via SB1, though that public financing is currently under attack by multiple political action committees in Nevada, including Schools Over Stadiums and Strong Public Schools Nevada.

At a reported total project cost of $1.5bn, Fisher is responsible for the remaining $1.1bn. Susan Slusser of the SF Chronicle reported back in early March that the Fisher family was claiming they would shoulder the burden of that remaining balance but that they were open to adding outside investors to lessen their total cost.

In March, Forbes released its annual list of MLB team valuations and had the Athletics valued at $1.2bn. That valuation is in line with the one they gave back in 2023, which was $1.18bn at the time.

If Fisher were to sell a $500m stake in the franchise, that would amount to roughly 42% of the team, assuming that total valuation is accurate. It's unclear whether Fisher really wants to sell such a large share of the franchise, or if a potential buyer would want to purchase such a large stake without assuming majority control of the organization.

It's also possible that Fisher and Galatioto Sports Partners find multiple investors to buy a couple smaller stakes with a total valuation around the $500m they're seeking. However, the most sensible path forward for Fisher is to finance the project himself, if he's capable of doing so. As we're all aware, there's no indication that he can.

Another interesting point is that there is a "flip tax" written into the relocation agreement that would force Fisher to pay a 20% tax of the total sale price if he were to sell the team before 2028. It's unclear whether he'll be taxed for selling a portion of the franchise. I'd assume they'd find some reason why he wouldn't have to but it's something to consider.

Jason Burke of Inside the A's raises some interesting questions as well, such as why an investor would want to buy into an organization that's set to spend at least the next three years playing in a minor league park with dramatically lowered revenues and have no certainty that the organization will receive the necessary public financing for the new stadium in Las Vegas.

As ever, this entire situation is a stain across the reputations of John Fisher and MLB. The relocation agreement was supposed to have a financing plan in place, but Shaikin's article makes it clear that such a plan does not exist.

Fisher doesn't have a plan to finance the new ballpark in Las Vegas. That can't be stated enough.

There will be a resolution here. Maybe Fisher will figure out the financing and move forward with the move to Vegas, or maybe the team will wind up in Sacramento. Maybe Fisher can't get a deal done and sells the team to a group that keeps the franchise in Oakland long-term.

Whatever happens, the fact that we're this far along in the process and we still have no idea how it will play out is astounding.