Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said the Oakland Athletics need to quickly reach a binding agreement for a new ballpark and that relocation could be considered if a deal isn’t struck for a facility in the Bay Area.
Meanwhile, in regard to the Tampa Bay Rays‘ stadium situation, Manfred said the preferred location would be on the Tampa side of the bay rather than in St. Petersburg — but site alone won’t be a determining factor.
The A’s have played at the Coliseum since 1968 and their lease expires after the 2024 season.
“I was at the Coliseum myself recently,” Manfred told the Baseball Writers’ Association of America on Tuesday in Los Angeles. “The condition of the Coliseum is a really serious problem for us. I’ve said it, this is not news. It is not a major league-quality facility at this point.”
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf is pushing for approval of a waterfront ballpark at Howard Terminal that would cost more than $1 billion. The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission voted last month to reclassify a 56-acre terminal at the Port of Oakland as a mixed-use area where a new ballpark could be built.
The team, under controlling owner John Fisher, also has explored a possible new ballpark in Las Vegas.
An Oakland City Council vote on a ballpark is possible later this year.
“Mayor Schaaf continues to work hard to try to get an arrangement, an agreement to develop the Howard Terminal site,” Manfred said. “I’m hopeful that that can still happen. And I said this recently and I’ll repeat, it needs to happen now. It needs to be done.”
“Mr. Fisher has to make a decision as to whether he wants to make an agreement or can make an agreement that is approved by the City Council that would keep the A’s in Oakland,” Manfred said. “If that’s not possible, we have a process that deals with an application for relocation, and I assume that’s where it goes if in fact no agreement can be made in Oakland.”
Baseball owners have put off possible expansion from 30 teams to 32 until Oakland and Tampa Bay get deals for new ballparks.
“I need to get Oakland and Tampa resolved before we could realistically have a conversation about expansion,” Manfred said.
Tampa Bay’s lease at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, where the team has played since its inaugural season in 1998, expires after the 2027 season. The Rays said in January that Major League Baseball had rejected the team’s plan to split its season between Florida and Montreal.
Manfred said he had not spoken in recent weeks with Rays owner Stuart Sternberg for an update.
“I have always thought that a stadium on the other side of the causeway would be preferable in some respects,” Manfred said Tuesday. “But there’s a variety of factors that have to be taken into account in terms of determining whether you’re going to be in St. Pete or in Tampa: What financing is available? What sites are available? How quickly you can get in the ground? It’s not just the location.”
Tampa Bay has drawn 676,296 at home this season and its 13,802 average is 28th among the 30 teams, ahead of only Miami (11,591) and Oakland (8,637).
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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