Will the Oakland A’s Be in Oakland Much Longer?

Ben Margot

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred insisted Tuesday that the Oakland A’s seeming interminable search for a path to build a new ballpark in Oakland is “at the end,” adding that should the A’s and city government fail to shortly reach an agreement, the A’s would start actively planning to move the franchise, most likely to Las Vegas.

The comments came in an interview with the Baseball Writers of America on Tuesday. John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle asked at what point would a decision be made on the A’s future, to which Manfred replied:

The Oakland process is at the end. (Owner) John Fisher and (team President) Dave Kaval have devoted literally millions of dollars to the effort to get a ballpark proposal that can be supported by the city of Oakland and Alameda County. That proposal is in front of the relevant government authorities. There are real crucial votes taking place over the next couple of months, and that’s going to determine the fate of baseball in Oakland.

Manfred added that the A’s preferred location for a new ballpark at Howard Terminal, located at the Port of Oakland near Jack London Square which is Oakland’s premier dining/socializing location, is the only acceptable option for keeping the team in Oakland. He let slip that the team’s present location at the Oakland Coliseum, where the A’s have played since moving from Kansas City to Oakland in 1968, was unacceptable for a new ballpark at the insistence of Fisher and not MLB.

Having been to literally hundreds of A’s games, I can testify that prior to the construction of Mount Davis behind the outfield fence, the Coliseum was a wonderful place to see a ballgame, the view behind the stadium a quiet pastoral scene of tree-covered hills. Why Fisher considers this is a bad thing remains a mystery, as he is more than happy to let Kaval be the franchise’s public face and voice.

Manfred’s doom-laden message was skewered by Rhamesis Muncada, who has maintained a blog detailing the A’s quest for a new ballpark since 2005. He comments:

Nowadays, A’s ownership and MLB are looking more like they’re trying to shake down Oakland. That’s the standard playbook, my friends. Play nice until you don’t get what you want, then turn heel and apply consistent pressure. Then hope someone breaks.

The problem with such an approach is that you are dealing with the double danger of double ineptitude in the presence of both Oakland’s city government and the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. The present Coliseum site was originally co-owned by the city and the county. The county sold its share of the property to the A’s in 2019 as part of the A’s plan to use redevelopment of the site as a source of revenue for at least some of the Howard Terminal ballpark. The city is still debating to whom it will sell its share. The county and the city are in hot debate regarding tax issues the A’s say need to be rectified before they can proceed with the Howard Terminal plans. I again remind all: These are California politicians. You do the math.

As someone who has fervently followed the A’s since I was eight years old, this entire mess is more than a little discouraging. I’ve already had my first hockey team (remember the Oakland Seals?) move and then disappear. I’ve gone through the Raiders leaving twice, each time swearing off them, this last time for good. I don’t want the A’s to leave. I haven’t sworn off sports as other conservatives have done. My fervent hope is that either a true miracle will transpire and all parties involved will actually work together and get a new ballpark built at Howard Terminal, or that Oakland native and A’s legend Stewart will once more triumph at the Coliseum, this time by buildIng a new ballpark there and keeping the A’s, his A’s, my A’s, safe at home.