Primer for MLB owners’ vote on Oakland A’s bid to move to Las Vegas


After a summer of reverse boycotts and “SELL THE TEAM” chants, Oakland A’s fans this week are bracing to hear the words they’ve been dreading for months: MLB owners have approved the A’s relocation to Las Vegas.
Tuesday, all 30 owners will gather in Arlington, Texas, for the winter owner’s meetings. At the top of the agenda is the A’s pending move, with a vote expected to come at the end of the week.
If 75 percent of the owners (23 of them) approve the vote, owner John Fisher will have cleared a major hurdle in his efforts to move the A’s after 55 years in Oakland. The vote is expected to pass.
“It’s the next step,” said David Samson, the former president of the Montreal Expos and Florida Marlins who was involved with relocation efforts for both teams. “It’s a step. It’s not the final step. Even with a relocation approval vote, that doesn’t mean Oakland is losing its team.
“What they will approve is for the A’s to relocate to Las Vegas. But that’s not baseball approving the finished documents.”
The relocation process clearly is a long one. Even with a “yes” vote there are still plenty of obstacles the A’s must clear. Here is a look at what’s happened and what’s ahead.
What has already happened
After enduring a decades-long pursuit of a new stadium to replace the dilapidated Coliseum, the A’s in August filed a formal application to relocate. The application was submitted to MLB commissioner Rob Manfred. It required the A’s to present the efforts they made to stay in Oakland and why moving to Las Vegas is a better option.
Opponents of the move have pointed out that the A’s would be leaving the sixth-largest media market in the country for the 44th. They would move into the smallest television market in the big leagues, according to Nielsen DMA ranking.
The application was reviewed by a three-person relocation committee that was hand-selected by Manfred. That committee included Kansas City Royals CEO John Sherman, Philadelphia Phillies CEO John Middleton and Milwaukee Brewers Chairman Mark Attanasio. (For what it’s worth, Sherman is seeking a new stadium in Kansas City and Attanasio recently received $545 million in public funding to upgrade the Brewers’ current ballpark.)
During the process, the committee makes a presentation to Manfred and an executive council of eight unknown owners who serve terms and get replaced when their term has been served. The presentation must include recommendations on operating territory and television territory, among other details.
The A’s must also present a viable option on a temporary home before the vote can take place, ESPN reported last month.
They have just one year left on their lease at the Coliseum, and it’s uncertain where they’ll play from 2025 until their new ballpark is completed — likely not until at least the 2028 season.
Team president Dave Kaval told the Nevada Independent in August that the three possible locations were at the Coliseum, at Oracle Park while sharing the stadium with the San Francisco Giants, or at Las Vegas Ballpark, the home of the A’s Triple-A affiliate which seats only 10,000 people and where current accommodations are unlikely to pass muster with the players union.
Tony Clark, who leads the MLBPA, told the L.A. Times this summer, “We are going to be a part of that conversation in one fashion or another, to ensure that the quality of play and the standard to which players are accustomed and the safety that is required for players to play on any surface is adhered to.”
The A’s temporary home is “something that Major League Baseball will ultimately decide,” Kaval told the Independent.
What will happen this week?
The last time the owners voted on relocation was in 2004 when they voted, 29-1, to approve relocation of the Montreal Expos to Washington D.C. The only dissenting vote was cast by the Baltimore Orioles, who were concerned that the nearby Nationals would cut into the Orioles’ revenue stream. The Expos became the Nationals the following year. They played their first three seasons at RFK Stadium until Nationals Park opened in 2008.
The 30 owners have surely reviewed the details of the A’s move and the vote could be quick and procedural.
MLB is hoping to resolve the stadium situations in both Oakland and Tampa Bay, the final step before the league can move forward with two additional expansion teams. Each of those teams would pay a fee estimated to be at least $2.2 billion, to be shared among the 30 owners.
Manfred has said the owners would not be looking for a relocation fee, estimated to be at least $300 million, because a retractable-roof stadium would cost at least $500 million and Fisher is already making a “billion-dollar private commitment.”
What happens after the vote?
The owners’ vote will simply approve the relocation. But there is still much for the A’s to do.
They still need a stadium operating agreement and a non-relocation agreement with Las Vegas, a construction agreement, a private financing plan and renderings for a new stadium.
“These are not all five-page agreements; these are hundreds of pages,” Samson said. “There has to be another stage where baseball will approve all these documents. … John Fisher can’t just stand up and say, ‘We’re playing here.’”
There’s also the potential of a referendum in Nevada, where a teachers union is trying to gather signatures for a petition that would give voters a say in whether or not the A’s receive nearly one-third of the $380 million in public funding that was approved by the state legislature.
They’ll need to find a temporary home after next season. Extending their lease at the Coliseum would be difficult. Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao said this week that an extension would only happen if Oakland was guaranteed a future expansion team and retention of the A’s branding.
As we head into the biggest week in Oakland A’s history, the only thing that is known for certain is that the team has one more year on its lease and plenty of good seats remain.


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