Citing “[concern] with the rate of progress on the A’s new ballpark effort with local officials and other stakeholders in Oakland,” Major League Baseball has instructed the Oakland Athletics “to begin to explore other markets” in parallel to pursuing approval of their plans for a proposed stadium, residential and commercial development to rise on the 50-acre-plus Howard Terminal site.

From the A’s President, Dave Kaval, following the A’s (#RootedInOakland) release of the news: “While we remain committed to succeeding in Oakland and will continue to work toward our waterfront ballpark, we will also follow MLB’s direction and immediately being the process of exploring a new home for the A’s.”

The A’s lease for the Coliseum is currently slated to end in 2024. And as we outlined earlier this year, there’s a long list of various approvals, on top of a development agreement, that the A’s would need to secure for the Howard Terminal site before its redevelopment could even break ground.

40 thoughts on “MLB Instructs the Oakland A’s to Explore a Move”
  1. It’s a bluff. And John Fisher, Dave Kaval, and Rob Manfred are liars. They claim the Coliseum site isn’t viable but they have literally put out a conceptual plan for redeveloping the site already — which completely contradicts their new extortion racket. There also are precisely zero other media markets where the team could make more money from a new regional media contract, the most important factor in the financial health of teams in the league. The team would quite literally have less revenue and be less valuable anywhere else, something Rob Manfred himself has admitted on the record.

    1. It *might* be a bluff.

      It’s *definitely* public negotiating, and completely expected in all situations like this.

      1. Sure, fair enough. It’s still wildly immoral and Dave Kaval in particular is paid to be a gaslighting sociopath.

        And before anyone spouts off about the Warriors or Raiders moving, the former stayed in the same media market and never asked for a massively public subsidy to build a new arena. And the latter doesn’t derive revenue from regional sports network contracts (NFL money is all national), negating the need for media market size considerations.

          1. Yep. Vegas and Nevada residents more broadly got fleeced, which isn’t all that surprising for a place that constantly reeks of desperation for attention.

          2. Did Las Vegas or Nevada residents get fleeced? My understanding was that the subsidies amounted to revenue from a hotel-room tax. If that’s the case, residents won’t pay for it, tourists and convention-goers will.

          3. That’s how it was sold to residents but that’s not who is on the hook for the bonds issued to pay for the subsidy. Nevada residents are. Anytime a subsidy for something like pro sports venue or a convention center is positioned as being paid for by tourists, that’s a lie.

          4. Even if the Vegas stadium was 100% paid for by hotel room taxes paid by tourists, that’s still money taken away from the people of Las Vegas. They could have had the exact same tax on hotel rooms and spent it on local services which Las Vegas needs-better transit, homeless services, schools, parks. Las Vegas has plenty of needs.

            Subsidizing rich sports team owners is never a good idea.

          5. SFRealist, none of those things is going to generate demand for hotel rooms.

          6. Neither are sports teams. The claim that pro sports teams in any given market is a net generator of tourism is also a huge lie.

          7. Exactly. Taxing convention goers (who have nothing to do with the Raiders) is a fine idea. Using those tax dollars to subsidize the NFL is ridiculous. It’s hard to imagine any organization that is less worthy of a tax subsidy then the NFL.

    2. Really? I would imagine there are so many other locations the A’s could work. Bluffing just like the Raiders, huh? Oakland is embarrassing…get it together. I expect the A’s will be gone shortly.

      1. This displays a profound ignorance of how the business of the NFL vs other sports works. And if you think it’s acceptable for the team to demand a nearly $900M public subsidy and free land from the city at the expense of residents, your priorities are extremely screwed up. The team is owned by a billionaire and has already publicly said it can develop the existing Coliseum site — they don’t need unjustifiable corporate welfare to get a new stadium.

    3. Pro sports teams played this game for decades. I’m hoping that in most places the tide is turning against giving subsidies to billionaires. They are awash in money, or at least they were before Covid. They can pay for stadiums themselves.

      1. I never worried much about it b/c I didn’t think it possible, but now that it has I’ll just have to try and live with it:
        I’m 100% in agreement with you.

        1. Let’s say the people invest $900m in publicly accessible infrastructure in and around HT. If the A’s are contributing $125m-$238m a year in economic benefits to Oakland, then before all the concessions (like $450m for affordable housing) aren’t we going to be making money from spending money?

          1. ‘cept cities – as in the Legal Entities that are actually responsible for things only capture a small portion of this “economic benefit”: if a business generates $1 in sales and pays $.80s of that in P/R, the ‘benefit’ may be $1.80 (or whatever multiplier we apply) but the city is only going to get 8c of that in sales tax (really less ‘cuz they split it w/ the county)

            So the appropriate cost/benefit is different. That “vision thing” can be a fast route to Chapter 9 (especially when the their sharpies are better paid than your sharpies)

          2. I personally enjoy baseball, but there’s no way that the A’s contribute $125M/year in economic benefits to Oakland.

          3. The benefits were accessed by the Bay Area Council’s Economic Institute. I’m not doing this everything that doesn’t reinforce my ideology is a lie garbage. Prove their data wrong. Bay Area Council has a history of presenting the facts -even when they’re unpopular facts. Like that most BA residents want more housing built… but just nowhere near them. They tell it like it is. So far the proposed terms of the HT development are incredibly beneficial to the City of Oakland. East Bay anti-capitalists and SF protectionists froth at the mouth of Oakland’s economic implosion. I mean Oakland elected a council member that says things like “de-commodify housing” not understanding commodification is exactly what makes a need easily obtainable. Well, maybe in Oakland’s case it’s impending bankruptcy is an inside job… egged on by wealthy peninsula interests.

          4. I have to have a retaining wall in my yard replaced. It’s going to cost about $23K. So that’s a construction cost “economic benefit” to Oakland…right?? And the workers may buy lunch nearby…or gas up or… So let’s say an extra Thou. Should I ask the City of Oakland to reimburse me for…oh $20 or 21K ?? It’ll be a ‘win-win”, right ?? They’ll still be ahead a few thousand , and I’ll be ahead a whole lot more !! 🙂 Of course not: The city didn’t capture any of that contract cost, and all they’ll get out of the taxable sales is the sales tax.

            Now I’m not saying the Plan (of a new facility) itself is bad, and if the “infrastructure” includes things like parks and public(ly subsidized) housing that teams don’t normally – and really shouldn’t – be providing, then I’d recommend dropping that part of it. It seems like they’re trying to make everyone happy with a bunch of gifts, but then asking to be reimbursed. Let’s 86 that part.

  2. Squeeze Play (noun)
    (1)In baseball, the squeeze play (a.k.a. squeeze bunt) is a maneuver consisting of a sacrifice bunt with a runner on third base. The batter bunts the ball, expecting to be thrown out at first base, but providing the runner on third base an opportunity to score. Such a bunt is most common with one out.
    (2) in baseball negotiations: a move designed to cover up your own ineptitude in developing failed projects for a quarter century and force the other party to rush acceptance of lavish concessions.

  3. Well, I don’t see it as a subsidy as much as leveraging multiple funding sources to build greater things. Just how Caltrain electrification leverages local + state + federal funding to built something greater that one would build on its own.

    In many cases, with more entities having some “skin” in the game, we can ensure the solution serves everyone vs favoring one entity.

    1. This is intentionally dishonest. You are advocating for billionaire team owners to get a nearly $1B public subsidy to build a stadium and development from which they will reap the profits. No amount of mental gymnastics can justify that.

      1. Anon, the Bay Area Council reported that in 2016 the A’s benefited Oakland to the tune of $126m. They expect that to be $238m in 2022. Who else is going to pay to clean up HT’s environmental issues? What other use of the land can contribute $126m-$238m/year to the City of Oakland?

        1. There’s no way that number is accurate.

          Study after study confirms that sports teams don’t bring any benefit. People who would be spending their money at the stadium go to the movies instead.

  4. I’m not sure it’s a Bluff. The cost of this Ball Park is out of control, and the city is broke; their credit rating was just downgraded. A move is more likely than not.

    1. Again, to which market? There isn’t one that even comes close to matching the size or media value of where they are now. The team would immediately lose revenue and total valuation by relocating.

      1. Anon, the Raiders left our #6 media market for LV’s #39 and their franchise value is presently at an all time high.

        1. As someone pointed out above, NFL money is national – moving an NFL team to a different regional media market has no financial effect on them. MLB baseball is a different story.

          1. While there is sharing of media revenue… which explains the Raiders ability to even exist in LV at all (and Mark’s not a financial wiz)… no one said that a team’s media market has zero impact on their franchise value.

            2020 US Top Media Markets
            1. New York
            2. Los Angeles
            3. Chicago
            4. Philadelphia
            5. Dallas-Ft. Worth
            6. San Francisco-Oak-San Jose
            7. Washington, DC
            8. Houston
            9. Boston
            10. Atlanta

            2020 Most Valuable NFL Franchises
            1. Dallas Cowboys
            2. New England Patriots
            3. New York Giants
            4. Los Angeles Rams
            5. San Francisco 49ers
            6. New York Jets
            7. Chicago Bears
            8. Washington Football Team (DC)
            9. Philadelphia Eagles
            10. Houston Texans

  5. Portland is jonesing for a MLB team. Lots of beautiful riverfront sites. And while the metro area is 1/2 size of SF, it’s still 22nd largest media market in the US, bigger than St. Louis, San Diego, Pitt, Indy, Balt., Cincinatti, KC, etc, etc. And they wouldn’t have to split it with the Giants

    1. IOW, (with the exception of Stlo) the cities that regularly lag in attendance and (consequently) P/R and most any- and everything one would want to make sure of a successful franchise.

      True they wouldn’t have to split it – Portland – with the Giants, but they’d have to split pro-sports with the Trailblazers, and split the PacNW with the Mariners. So maybe on an empty seat-vs-empty seat basis very similar.

  6. Corporate welfare at its worst. Tell ’em to take a hike. Where are they going to go? Spokane? Duluth?
    Sports ball. Who cares?

    1. I believe it would be preferable from the City of Oakland’s perspective to bid this team a fond farewell as they move to Portland, but pro sports is a powerful social unrest suppressant.

      It effectively diverts working class people’s attention from their and their co-citizen’s situation, and Oakland has a lot of working class people with limited opportunities for advancement facing a rising cost of (everyday) living, as the absolutely insane number of people living in tents on Oakland streets will attest.

      Pro sports fandom is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.

    2. Miraloma… if you think financing that is repaid is “welfare” then the entire country is on welfare.

  7. In my opinion, if Oakland is going to thrive it’s going to have to invest in downtown. The coliseum site while feasible, doesn’t do much to improve Oakland’s long term prosperity.

    Plenty of other cities to look to who have used a ballpark to anchor improve the city livability and expand desirable place making. Is $900 too steep? Possibly.

    Hopefully the City can negotiate a position that allows for this project while reaping benefits at a reasonable cost. They have an opportunity to improve the City for generations to come, that doesn’t happen at the coliseum, and that doesn’t happen by doing nothing.

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