Since the Athletics announced back in April that they’d agreed to purchase land for a stadium site in Nevada, a relocation to Las Vegas has seemed like a foregone conclusion. Commissioner Rob Manfred did little to dispel that notion yesterday when detailing the Athletics’ progress in the relocation application process, but he also took a meeting with Oakland mayor Sheng Thao at her request during this week’s All-Star break, reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. In a separate Q&A, Thao tells Rosenthal that she requested the sit-down in large part due to Manfred’s prior public claims that the city of Oakland had not put forth a stadium proposal.
“Through the press, we have heard that Manfred has stated there was no proposal,” said Thao, who arrived at the meeting with copies of 268 pages worth of design guidelines, development plans and transactional documentation. “We wanted to dispel that notion. If people were misinformed, we wanted to make sure everybody had all the real-time information of how close we were to a ballpark.”
Fans of the A’s and other clubs alike will want to read both pieces in full. The first piece contains direct links to the hundreds of pages of material Thao brought to the presentation, while Rosenthal’s Q&A with Thao provides on-record stances from the first-term mayor, who was elected to her position back in January.
Thao repeatedly emphasized that her priority is to keep the A’s in Oakland, citing (among other factors) the larger market size, the less extreme weather and the larger plot of land for the A’s; the city’s Howard Terminal proposal includes a 100-acre real estate development, as opposed to the current nine-acre plot being discussed in Las Vegas.
Asked whether the city would be amenable to an expansion franchise following the potential relocation of the A’s, Thao replied that Las Vegas is the more logical site for an expansion club, citing the Athletics’ 50-year history in Oakland and pointing to the longstanding ties to fans in the city. Critics will surely point out the perennially poor attendance, but Thao countered by calling that factor a two-way street.
“You can’t divest from a team to make them one of the worst teams in the league — the fans know it, owners know it, everyone knows it — and then expect there to be a strong fanbase as well,” she told Rosenthal. “You can’t have your cake and eat it, too.”
For his part, Manfred simply told Rosenthal that he and Thao had a “good meeting.” He told Thao he’d pass the contents of her presentation onto MLB’s three-person relocation committee. Thao told Rosenthal the city is very much open to continuing to work with the A’s and work on its proposal. It still feels like a long shot, given that the Nevada senate recently approved the team’s stadium plan and governor Joe Lombardo recently signed a bill proposing $380MM in public funding.
Indeed, while A’s hopefuls may see a glimmer of hope with Manfred and Thao meeting, Mick Akers of the Las Vegas Review-Journal tweets that a source called the meeting “much [ado] about nothing,” adding that it’s likely “too little, too late” for the city of Oakland in its efforts to rekindle talks.