MLBPA executive director speaks out about Athletics' ballpark uncertainty

Tony Clark had some choice comments about the Athletics' ballpark uncertainty

Feb 16, 2024; Mesa, AZ, USA; Oakland Athletics players run a drill during a Spring Training workout
Feb 16, 2024; Mesa, AZ, USA; Oakland Athletics players run a drill during a Spring Training workout / Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark spoke with John Shea of the SF Chronicle this week and expressed frustration with how the relocation process is being handled by John Fisher and the Athletics.

The A's are still trying to find a place to play during the 2025-2027 seasons after their lease at the Coliseum ends, and before their stadium in Las Vegas is expected to be ready. The A's met with Oakland and Alameda County about a potential lease extension that would keep the team in the Coliseum during that interim but no deal is imminent. The other options at present are Sutter Health Park in Sacramento and Smith Ballpark in Salt Lake City.

During his conversation with Shea ($), Clark made a comment in regard to the A's ballpark uncertainty, stating that "it needs to get done". Clark also spoke about the frustrations some of the players are having with not knowing where they'll be playing or living during that three year stretch, and how it has negatively affected Oakland as a potential free agent destination.

The A's have not signed any multi-year contracts this winter and the fact that they don't have a ballpark to play in for the next three seasons is a significant factor in that. A's GM David Forst mentioned it as well, commenting in January about the difficulties has had during negotiations with free agents.

This is all on the heels of a team-wide meeting at the beginning of spring training led by Mark Kotsay and David Forst, who addressed the players and coaching staff about the teams uncertain future.

Team President Dave Kaval was in attendance for the meeting, though he didn't speak to the players. He did briefly comment to John Shea about the process of finding a temporary home, saying "there’s multiple options, and we hope to make the decision in an appropriate course of time".

Unfortunately for the players, nobody knows what that timeline is. MLB typically announces their following year's schedule in May. At the absolute minimum, the A's will need to have a solution in place by the end of March. But even that seems like an eternity to wait to see this play out.

It's been debated whether the best course of action for the A's is to renegotiate a lease with Oakland and Alameda County to stay at the Coliseum, or if moving to Sacramento would be a better option.

There's no correct answer here, to be sure. Staying in Oakland would allow the players and team staff to stay in their current homes, provide the team with a major league caliber facility, and allow the team to retain 100% of the revenue from its local television broadcasting deal.

On the other hand, it'll be three long lame-duck seasons for the A's if they're to stay in Oakland. Moving to Sacramento would mean a renegotiated RSN deal for less annual money, and the team would have to deal with playing in a minor league park. But there's probably something to be said about just ripping the band-aid off, officially leaving Oakland (which they're intent on doing anyway), and preparing to reset before heading to Las Vegas in 2028.

At this point, we're all just waiting in limbo wondering what's going to happen. The A's certainly don't know what they want to do here, and they're not assertive enough to get a deal done with any of the remaining parties. They'll find a home somewhere but they've dragged it out long enough that the players and league executives are now starting to speak up about it. We'll see how much longer the uncertainty lasts.