OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) — If Oakland native and Athletics Hall of Famer Dave Stewart had it his way, the A’s plans to relocate to Las Vegas will fall through and his hometown team will stay in town.
But Stewart admits that seems unlikely at this point, now that the team has signed a binding agreement to buy land in Las Vegas for a future ballpark.
Stewart won a World Series with the team he grew up watching in East Oakland where he was born and raised, just blocks away from the Coliseum.
The A’s have retired his number and Stewart is a member of the Athletics Hall of Fame. As a former Major League Baseball general manager, assistant general manager and player agent, he’s concerned that decades of negotiations between the team and the city have broken off.
The A’s now look poised to make a new home in Las Vegas.
“Just makes sense in that if you’re making this announcement to your community, to the city, that this ball is down the road and it’s just a matter of figuring out. In more cases than not, all it really comes down to is money,” he said.
The A’s need to secure a reported half-billion public dollars to get the deal done to build a new ballpark in Vegas — to which so far, Nevada legislators have not committed.
“It’s just an agreement that they’re purchasing land. That doesn’t mean that, you know, they’ll get the stadium done,” Stewart said. “I mean, there’s a lot of work to be done.”
But has the city done all it can to keep the A’s here?
“They did what they could do. I would guess, you know, that would be my best guess and I don’t want to be negative towards them,” Stewart said. “I just don’t have a lot of faith and confidence in the city council.”
Following the announcement about the A’s acquiring land to build a ballpark in Vegas, Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao accused the team of not negotiating in good faith.
Stewart doesn’t seem to agree with that assessment.
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“This has been an over 20-year process, so, and I think it’s been eight or nine years with the current ownership group with the A’s, and so, I don’t know how much more good faith you display.”
A faction of A’s fans remains optimistic that by some miracle, principal owner John Fisher will sell the team to a group committed to Oakland.
Stewart does not see that happening.
“I’ve had some conversations with him about different levels of ownership with the A’s, and he’s not been interested in selling a majority portion, or for that matter, selling a minority position in the team,” Stewart said.
Should the A’s depart, Stewart is hopeful Major League Baseball sees Oakland as a viable option for an expansion team in the future.