Oakland’s City Council met Tuesday to discuss the team’s plans to build a new ballpark at Howard Terminal. Although the vote would seem to amount to a win for the Athletics’ potential to stay in Oakland, the reality is the franchise still seems to have reservations about the term sheet signed on Tuesday.
The Oakland Athletics have been desperate to get out of Oakland Coliseum
The Athletics have played in Oakland Coliseum, also known as RingCentral Coliseum, for over 50 years. The venue has been home to some of the best teams in A’s history. It has also turned into a bit of an ancient relic.
There are other motives to the A’s wanting a new ballpark. Some of that has to do with the team’s finances. The club has traditionally been one of the lesser spenders in the sport, routinely carrying one of the lowest payrolls in baseball. After all, this was the franchise that was the subject of the hit film Moneyball.
Athletics president Dave Kaval said last month that payroll would not be an issue if the city approved a new ballpark.
“We can go from having one of the lowest five payrolls in the league to a top-five or 10, depending on the year,” Kaval told the Mercury News in June. “It’s going to be such a remarkable change in our business and I think with the savvy and business acumen of (executive vice president) Billy Beane and (general manager) David Forst, giving them that type of resource is going to be incredible and that’s what we’re striving to do.”
Oakland has managed to excel in recent seasons despite lacking ample funds to sign big free agents or make massive trades. The Athletics won 97 games in both 2018 and 2019 before winning the AL West in 2020. They came into Tuesday’s action at 54-42, well within the AL Wild Card picture.
However, the success on the field has seemed to pale in comparison to the future of the franchise, especially with relocation still a possibility.
Oakland City Council passed a term sheet, but it means almost nothing
The Oakland City Council’s decision to pass the term sheet for the waterfront ballpark would seem good for fans hoping the team will stay in Oakland. However, it’s more complicated than that.
Oakland City Council’s vote was for the term with specific amendments made by the city. Kaval and the A’s do not agree with those amendments, making it hard to envision the team will accept the city’s plan.
Alden Gonzalez of ESPN noted Kaval said yesterday voting on a plan altered and devised by the city is “akin to a ‘no’ vote.” Things do not appear to be going swimmingly, especially with council member Carol Fife saying there isn’t really a specific avenue for negotiating further.
Interestingly, some of the public comments made just before the scheduled vote heaped blame on the A’s.
The situation has become frustrating, apparently for all involved parties.
While the A’s continue to excel on the field, their dealings off the field and the shrinking timeline for building a new park have led to some contention. It might not be long before the fate of baseball in Oakland is decided.
Relocating to Las Vegas might be the best option for the Athletics
Longtime fans of the Oakland Athletics will certainly be disappointed if the team moves. It would be a bummer for local businesses and workers.
Still, it is probably best if the A’s start making relocation plans to follow the Raiders to Las Vegas.
The reality is the Athletics have drummed up plans for a new ballpark on multiple occasions. Those plans have been scrapped every time, in part because the city hasn’t really budged. Major League Baseball backed the Athletics’ desire to explore relocation options, so Kaval and Co. really might have all the leverage.
Las Vegas briefly played host to the A’s during stadium renovations in 1996, so there’s history there. Jeff Passan also deemed Sin City as the likeliest destination should the A’s follow through with relocation.