Thao calls Athletics' agreement to purchase land in Las Vegas 'extremely disappointing'
OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao said Thursday that negotiations with the Athletics to stay in the city are over. She says the team used Oakland to get a better deal in a different city.
Thao on Thursday reacted to the news that the Oakland Athletics have entered into a "binding purchase agreement" for land near the Las Vegas Strip in the middle of "full on negotiations" for a new ballpark at Howard Terminal.
"The city of Oakland has for years worked to keep the A's rooted here in the city of Oakland," Mayor Thao said. "This announcement happened mid-negotiations, and it shows they had no interest in reaching a deal with Oakland at all. Oakland is not interested in being used as leverage with the A's negotiations with Las Vegas."
The team announced this week they reached a land deal to build a new stadium in Las Vegas. They said they are no longer looking at Oakland, and the Howard Terminal project, as a sight for a new stadium.
The team said the process to build a new ballpark at Howard Terminal has made "little forward progress for some time."
The plan most recently passed through environmental review, but more details needed to be ironed out.
In a statement, the A's said: "We have made a strong and sincere effort to stay here. We recognize that this is very hard to hear. We are disappointed that we have been unable to achieve our shared vision of a waterfront ballpark."
Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao also released a statement that reads, "It is clear to me that the A's have no intention of staying in Oakland and have simply been using this process to try to extract a better deal out of Las Vegas. I am not interested in continuing to play that game -- the fans and our residents deserve better."
The A's would become the third major sports team in just a few years to leave Oakland. The Warriors and The Raiders left for stadiums in new cities.
"It is a numbing feeling," said Jorge Leon, the President of the Oakland 68's, a passionate Oakland A's fan group. "My analogy would be we are in the bottom of the ninth, two outs and Terrance Long is at the plate."
The deal is not finalized yet, but Mayor Thao said a phone call with the team this week gave the impression the decision to leave was already made.
"It was a short phone call," Thao said. "And when you get a call saying we are going to sign, and we found land in Las Vegas we are going to sign, that is pretty definitive to me."
It leaves fans only looking back on memories.
"I would do everything Ricky Henderson and Dave Stewart used to talk about," Leon said. "You cut school or you sneak in when you are a kid. That is exactly what I used to do and now it's the coliseum will be there, but the team won't I guess."
The A's lease at the Coliseum ends next year, and there's still no word yet on if it will be extended while their new stadium is built in Las Vegas.
The mayor also said she will move forward to find alternative plans to redevelop Howard Terminal.
The A's have a lease to play games at the Coliseum until 2024.
Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao's full statement:
"I am deeply disappointed that the A's have chosen not to negotiate with the City of Oakland as a true partner, in a way that respects the long relationship between the fans, the City and the team. The City has gone above and beyond in our attempts to arrive at mutually beneficial terms to keep the A's in Oakland. In the last three months, we've made significant strides to close the deal. Yet, it is clear to me that the A's have no intention of staying in Oakland and have simply been using this process to try to extract a better deal out of Las Vegas. I am not interested in continuing to play that game - the fans and our residents deserve better.
I am incredibly proud of what we have accomplished as a City, including securing a fully entitled site and over $375 million in new infrastructure investment that will benefit Oakland and its Port for generations to come. In a time of budget deficits, I refuse to compromise the safety and well-being of our residents. Given these realities, we are ceasing negotiations and moving forward on alternatives for the redevelopment of Howard Terminal."
Oakland Athletics' full statement:
"The A's have signed a binding agreement to purchase land for a future ballpark in Las Vegas. We realize this is a difficult day for our Oakland fans and community. For more than 20 years, the A's have focused on securing a new home for the Club, and have invested unprecedented time and resources for the past six years to build a ballpark in Oakland. Even with support from fans, leaders at the city, county, and state level, and throughout the broader community, the process to build a new ballpark in Oakland has made little forward progress for some time. We have made a strong and sincere effort to stay here.
We recognize that this is very hard to hear. We are disappointed that we have been unable to achieve our shared vision of a waterfront ballpark. As we shift our focus to Vegas, we will continue to share details about next steps."
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