SEATTLE — The Athletics, poised to move out of Oakland and into Las Vegas, have “begun to submit information related to their relocation application,” Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred stated Tuesday, adding that the application is “not complete at this point.”
About a month ago, the Nevada State Legislature approved a $380 million bill that would help fund a proposed 30,000-seat, $1.5 billion retractable-roof ballpark on the Tropicana Hotel site along the Vegas strip. The A’s, based in Oakland since 1968, hope to break ground next year and open the venue in time for the 2027 season. Their lease at the Oakland Coliseum expires after the 2024 season and their interim home has yet to be decided.
“Our relocation guidelines actually spell out clearly what needs to be included in an application,” Manfred said, while speaking his annual, pre-All-Star Game appearance in front of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. “One of the things that you have to include is what’s gonna happen during the interim period. They have not made a submission on that topic.”
MLB established a relocation committee in June to evaluate the A’s move, a group headed by Milwaukee Brewers chairman Mark Attanasio. John Middleton and John Sherman, CEOs of the Philadelphia Phillies and the Kansas City Royals, respectively, also make up the committee, which will make a recommendation to the 30 owners for a yet-to-be-determined vote on the A’s move. Seventy-five-percent approval is required.
The A’s went into the All-Star break with a major league-worst 25-67 record and are averaging slightly over 10,000 fans per game, the lowest in the industry. Their biggest crowd came during what was deemed a “reverse boycott” on June 13, when an announced crowd of 27,759 showed up to plead John Fisher to sell the team.
“My single biggest disappointment is that because of the kind of political process in Oakland, we didn’t find a solution to keep the A’s in Oakland,” Manfred said. “That’s No. 1 on the disappointment list.”
Manfred added that he remains “hopeful” that the Tampa Bay Rays can make significant progress with local officials on a permanent home this year and re-stated that expansion to 32 teams will not happen until the A’s and Rays’ situations are settled.
“I hope pretty shortly thereafter we would put together an expansion committee and start talking, internally first, about the issues associated with expansion,” Manfred said. “Obviously there are economic issues. You’re talking about diminishing the central revenue available to the 30 [teams], making it 32. You gotta figure out the impact of that, and then you gotta think about what you would be looking for in terms of an expansion fee in order to offset that.”
It has been a quarter century since the league last expanded, adding the Rays and the Arizona Diamondbacks in 1998. Adding two more teams could drastically alter the sport’s geographic alignments.
“If you’re going to go to 32, are you gonna make format divisional changes? What should it look like?” Manfred said. “So there’s some internal work that’s gonna take some time to get done.”