We got word today that the owners will vote on the Oakland A’s relocation plans this week, with MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred set to announce the results at a press conference on Thursday morning.
According to Evan Drellich of The Athletic, it’s likely that the vote will pass, with fair odds that the owners vote yes to a tally of 30-0. These types of things don’t typically get brought to the public without the assurance of the owners appearing as a united front. Manfred and the owners care about appearing to be striving toward a similar goal, and despite all of the negative question marks still surrounding this relocation, it’s widely expected that the owners will vote to move forward.
As has been mentioned before, this isn’t the final step in the A’s moving to Las Vegas. There are still no active ballpark renderings. The ones that A’s owner John Fisher and President Dave Kaval showed to the Vegas legislature months ago are obsolete. There is no reasonable answer to the question of how the ballpark will fit on the current 9-acre Tropicana Hotel site.
The question of public financing from the Nevada taxpayers is still in question. Despite Nevada Political Action Committee “Schools Over Stadiums” losing a recent court finding due to technicalities in the language of the claim, the group is still staunchly opposing gifting Fisher the $380 million in approved funds. They are currently doing everything possible to develop a ballot initiative that would allow the Nevada voters to rescind the money.
Even if owners vote 'yes' on relocation, A's fans will keep fighting
Manfred has already been quoted as saying that if that public financing were to disappear, it would create a significant challenge for Fisher. It’s pretty open knowledge that Fisher doesn’t have the cash to fully finance this project by himself. If the public money goes away, the relocation likely isn’t happening.
Mayor Sheng Thao has gone out of her way to make it known that the city of Oakland has approved nearly $500 million in public financing for the Howard Terminal project. There are several claims, from numerous dissenting sources, who suggest that Oakland is to blame for not putting enough resources into the project. Make no mistake, Fisher has wanted out of Oakland for years. There is no secret here. Fisher and Kaval simply aren’t interested in working with the city of Oakland. They want out, regardless of the consequences.
One other significant hiccup is that the A’s lease at the Coliseum site ends after the 2024 season. The A’s are about to play a lame duck year in front of very few fans. If the owners vote passes and Fisher is able to retain the taxpayer money in Nevada, there is no reason for the city of Oakland to extend the lease at the Coliseum.
According to the collective bargaining agreement, the A’s must have a binding agreement in place by January of 2024 to continue receiving their revenue sharing funds. Fisher and Kaval have been open about their reliance on those funds. Las Vegas is such a small television market that the A’s would become a permanent revenue sharing recipient if they were to move there.
To be fair, any expansion market is going to be smaller than league average, as the biggest cities already have at least one franchise. However, a team leaving one of the biggest markets in the league for the literal smallest, and owners approving their unceasing revenue sharing stream, is an egregious mistake.
Despite all of the reasons why the A’s relocation doesn’t make sense, it seems inevitable that Fisher will find a way to drag this franchise out Oakland. A’s fans will have their fingers crossed for a favorable ruling on Thursday. However, regardless of whether Fisher wins this round of the fight, the war isn’t over.