(KRON) — Oakland sports fans are caught in A Tale of Two Cities. News that the Oakland Athletics will likely move to Las Vegas was a tough blow for Oaklanders, who lost their NFL team, the Raiders, just three summers ago to the same Nevada city.
On Thursday, Oakland city officials released their side of the story explaining why the Major League Baseball team is poised to leave the Bay Area for Sin City, and how negotiations hit a wall.
The following timeline of events was released by Oakland city officials:
Early April: Negotiations between Oakland and the A’s were in full swing.
Intense negotiations between the city and A’s were facilitated by a mediator.
April 19: The A’s threw a curveball by signing an agreement to buy a new site in Las Vegas. Oakland’s new mayor, Sheng Thao, said she doesn’t like playing games.
Oakland city officials wrote, “On April 19, the A’s announced a ‘binding’ agreement to purchase a 49-acre site for a new ballpark and ancillary development west of the Las Vegas Strip from Red Rock Resorts.”
In a Las Vegas Review-Journal article published on the evening of April 19, A’s team president Dave Kaval stated, “For a while we were on parallel paths (with Oakland), but we have turned our attention to Las Vegas to get a deal here for the A’s and find a long-term home.”
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred concurred, stating, “We support the A’s turning their focus on Las Vegas.”
In response to the A’s announcement, Mayor Sheng Thao directed staff to cease negotiations with the A’s.
Thao said, “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.”
April 20: Oakland Athletics baseball fans woke up to bad news.
Fans were dismayed to hear that their team, an integral part of the Bay Area sports fabric since 1968, secured land for a stadium in Las Vegas.
Fans told KRON4 about their favorite memories. One fan wrote, “Cespedes throwing my son a ball while playing left field. Made our day and my son never forgets.” Another fan wrote, “Thanks for the memories…skipping school to see a day game just to see Ricky Henderson steal bases!”
Early May: The Athletics pick a smaller site in Las Vegas for building a new ballpark
Oakland officials wrote, “The A’s reportedly abandoned the Red Rock Resorts site in favor of a new, 9-acre site for a smaller, 30,000-seat ballpark located on the Tropicana Hotel site on the Las Vegas Strip. Both the site and the ballpark would be the smallest in Major League Baseball. According to the Nevada Independent, the A’s are seeking $395 million in public financing for their new Las Vegas ballpark, including refundable tax credits, infrastructure funds, general obligation bonds, and tax exemptions. These subsidies would require approval by the Nevada legislature, Clark County and possibly other parties.”
May 12: The Port’s negotiation expires
Following relocation attempts to Fremont (2006 – 2009) and San Jose (2009 – 2015), the Athletics chose Howard Terminal as its preferred Oakland site in 2018.
Here’s where it gets complicated for anyone who hasn’t closely followed this saga.
Howard Terminal is located within Oakland’s Port Area, which is managed by the Board of Port Commissioners. The Port’s Exclusive Negotiation Term Sheet expired on May 12, and the Port is no longer obligated to negotiate only with the Athletics with regards to the potential redevelopment of the former Howard Terminal. “However, the Port may elect to continue negotiations with the A’s, possibly in parallel with evaluating other potential uses and users of the site,” city officials wrote.
The A’s license to occupy and play baseball at the Coliseum expires on December 31, 2024.
June 1: Oakland city officials say they still want the Athletics to “remain rooted in Oakland for generations to come.”
“The City worked for several years to come to an agreement with the A’s. Over that time, the City has repeatedly shown its commitment to the team and its fans and demonstrated the political will to keep the A’s in Oakland,” Oakland officials wrote. “Oakland’s leadership remains confident that a new Waterfront Ballpark District at Howard Terminal is within reach.”
The City of Oakland released more details about the Athletics saga and what will happen to Waterfront Ballpark District at Howard Terminal here.