Manfred says `prudent’ A’s are exploring Las Vegas ballpark

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred thinks the Oakland Athletics made a good decision to explore a possible new ballpark in Las Vegas, expressing frustration their stadium situation remains unsolved in an industry just shy of $11 billion in revenue this year.

The A’s have played at the Coliseum since 1968 and their lease expires after the 2024 season. After proposing and withdrawing plans for ballparks in Fremont and San Jose, the team announced in November 2018 it had found a waterfront location for a new ballpark at Howard Terminal, close to the Jack London Square neighborhood.

Major League Baseball instructed the team in May 2021 to explore relocation options if no ballpark agreement could be reached. Team president Dave Kaval has said the club was working on plans along “parallel paths” in Oakland and Las Vegas.

“The pace in Oakland has not been rapid, number one,” Manfred said Monday after announcing Game 3 of the World Series between Houston and Philadelphia had been postponed by rain. “We’re in a stadium situation that’s really not tenable. I mean, we need to do something to alter the situation. So I’m concerned about the lack of pace.

“Given the fact that they have not made a deal in Oakland — and I’ve been talking to this since the day I started, that’s eight years ago, I think it’s prudent that they are exploring another alternative because something needs to happen in Oakland.”

The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission voted 23-2 in June to reclassify a 56-acre terminal at the Port of Oakland as a mixed-use area where a new ballpark could be built. The vote is the first in a series of legal hurdles the team would have to overcome before it gets permission to break ground for the project.

Oakland’s City Council approved preliminary terms for the project last yea r, but Kaval said the financial terms didn’t work for the team.

Manfred said any timetable for a possible relocation decision would be “partially dependent on decisions that Oakland — the team — may make.”

Oakland traded veterans and cut payroll to $48.8 million this season, more than $11 million less than any other big league team as of Aug. 31. The A’s finished 60-102, 29th among the 30 teams and ahead of only Washington at 55-107. The A’s finished with a big league-low 787,902 in home attendance, an average of 9,849 per game.

Manfred said MLB revenue this year will be just shy of $11 billion, up from $10 billion before the pandemic.

The 30 teams combined to draw 64.6 million fans, up from 45.3 million in the pandemic-restricted 2021 season and down from 68.5 million in 2019. The 26,843 average was down 5.3% from the 2019 average of 28,339.

Manfred said the expansion of the playoffs from 10 teams to 12 was key.

“We’ve had a phenomenal year,” he said. “In September we saw the benefits of the new playoff format. We had, in particular, weekend draws that we hadn’t seen since 2014. That’s what it was about: more interest in September baseball. I think that the three-game wild-card round performed really well on a weekend against football.”

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