Athletics discuss potential lease extension with local government

ByTim Keown ESPN logo
Saturday, February 17, 2024

The Oakland Athletics, still seeking a temporary home as they await their move to Las Vegas, met with officials from the city of Oakland and Alameda County on Thursday to discuss the possibility of extending their lease at the Oakland Coliseum for three seasons beginning in 2025.

The current Coliseum lease expires after the upcoming season. Owner John Fisher and team officials have toured minor-league facilities in Salt Lake City and Sacramento in their quest to find a home for the team before their Las Vegas stadium is completed, which the team expects to be in time for the 2028 season. They have also floated the idea of playing at the home of their Triple-A team in Summerlin, Nevada, or sharing Oracle Park with the San Francisco Giants.

"We're glad to be in direct communication with the A's," said Leigh Hanson, Oakland's chief of staff, who represented the city along with city council member Rebecca Kaplan and county supervisor David Haubert. "The meeting was very direct and very honest. I don't think anyone was posturing or trying to overstate things."

The A's reiterated at the meeting that a decision on a temporary site will need to be finalized in the next few months. The Coliseum has long been considered the most logical choice for the A's, despite the animosity created by their decision to abandon their stadium project along the Oakland waterfront and move to Vegas. The team stands to lose a large percentage of its $70 million annual contract for local television rights if it leaves the Bay Area, and any relocation to a minor-league facility will need the approval of the Major League Baseball Players' Association.

"We had a positive meeting with the City and County," the A's said in a statement released to KGO-TV. "We look forward to further discussions regarding a lease extension at the Coliseum for the interim period before the Vegas ballpark opens."

It was the first time the sides had discussed the team's situation since the A's secured $380 million in public funding from the state of Nevada and were granted unanimous approval to move in a vote of MLB owners. Neither Fisher nor Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao, whose mother died this week, attended the meeting, which was held at the team's offices in Jack London Square. A's president Dave Kaval and chief of staff Miguel Duarte represented the A's.

Thao has made it clear the city will expect assurances from Major League Baseball that a lease extension be coupled with an assurance that an MLB team -- whether the A's or an expansion team -- makes its home in Oakland.

"Whether it's the A's under the current ownership, the A's under a new owner or the A's brand in expansion, Oakland A's fans are voters in the City of Oakland, and they want a major-league team," Hanson said. "It's our obligation to negotiate on their behalf. This is a major-league city, and if we extend the lease three years without a significant long-term commitment, we will have failed at our task. [The lease extension] is much more in the A's interest than ours at this point."

The two sides agreed to meet again soon, although no firm date was set. Hanson said the city and county's demands for a major league team will eventually require future negotiations to include commissioner Rob Manfred and other MLB owners.

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