The beginning of the end? Here's what really led up to Oakland A's Las Vegas land deal

ByCasey Pratt, Paige McIntyre KGO logo
Friday, April 21, 2023
Here's what really led up to Oakland A's Las Vegas land deal
Here's a breakdown of what led up to Oakland A's decision to purchase land for a new stadium near the Las Vegas Strip.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- For many Oakland A's fans, the team's announcement Wednesday night that it signed a binding agreement to purchase land near the Las Vegas Strip was a moment of frustration and disappointment.

Those that have been dedicated to the team for decades have endured years and years of uncertainty around the A's future in the Bay Area. At times it was promising, especially in the past year. However, Wednesday night's announcement clearly shows where the organization and owner stand.

So was this decades in the making? Was this always going to be the outcome? Were the A's never really interested in staying in Oakland?

ABC7 News Senior Sports Producer Casey Pratt breaks it all down in the video player above and details what exactly led up to Wednesday night's shocking announcement.

Here's what Casey has heard so far about the deal:

Dave Kaval (and then later John Fisher) called Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao Wednesday night to give her a heads up that a story about buying land in Las Vegas was about to leak. But the story was loaded with quotes from Dave Kaval himself and comments from MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred. That's calculated and not how leaks work. Mayor Thao responded by pulling out of negotiations and refusing to allow Oakland to be used as leverage for a sweeter deal in Vegas.

The A's deal in Las Vegas is still pending legislation being passed. Public records show that A's lobbyists met with all of the Clark County Commissioners on the same day the news dropped.

Oakland City officials were particularly frustrated because this week the City of Oakland and the A's had a multi-day negotiation summit planned. The city flew out their lawyers and they were trying to hammer out a deal. When the call came in from the A's on Wednesday night, it blindsided the city.

The A's and Oakland had agreed to not negotiate in the media and the keep details private. Part of that agreement even included the Mayor agreeing not to reach out to MLB Commissioner Manfred. The silence and lack of communication with the league offices were things that the Mayor was criticized over. If the "summit" failed, the A's and Oakland were going to come forward together as a unified front and explain that a deal couldn't be reached. But the Las Vegas agreement upended the plans.

Oakland's stance is that they want to keep the A's and build at Howard Terminal, but at this point, it would take legislation failing in Las Vegas and the team being put up for sale for a new ownership group to step in and buy the team. If that happens, Oakland would be happy to work with that new group to get the deal across the finish line.

The A's have an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement with the Port Of Oakland to build at Howard Terminal. That agreement expires on May 12, and I'm hearing neither side is planning on extending it. This is interesting because the A's spent upwards of $100 million getting that land cleared for development. If they walk away now, the City and Port could offer up that land to other developers.

The A's original term sheet had them fronting the cost of both on-site and off-site infrastructure. Oakland countered their proposal because they felt it could hurt their general fund and offered to fund the off-site themselves. The A's estimated that it would cost around $350 Million to cover that cost. Oakland raised $375 million. But prices ballooned as the pandemic and inflation hit. The most recent estimates had the total closer to $567 million. With the $375 million already raised, and $100+M in pending grants coming in, it may have cost less than $90 million to finish the deal. They were very close.


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