MILWAUKEE (AP) – Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred says a vote on a potential move by the Oakland Athletics to Las Vegas could take place when the owners meet June 13-15 in New York.
“It’s possible that the relocation vote could happen as early as June,” Manfred said Thursday in Milwaukee during his tour of major league ballparks to speak with players. “It’s very difficult to have a timeline for Oakland until a deal is actually considered. There is an internal resettlement process that they have to go through, and we haven’t even started that process.”
Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo said Wednesday that legislative leaders and the Athletics have reached a tentative agreement on a $1.5 billion stadium financing plan that would lure the franchise to Las Vegas. The funding bill still needs to be approved by the legislature.
Manfred was asked if he believes the door is completely closed on the Athletics staying in Oakland, where the team has played since 1968.
“I think you’d have to ask the mayor of Oakland,” Manfred said. “She said she ended negotiations after it was announced in Las Vegas. I don’t have a crystal ball about where anything goes. No final deal was made in Las Vegas. We’ll have to see how that plays out.”
The Athletics agreed to use the land at the south end of the Las Vegas Strip, where the Tropicana Las Vegas casino resort is located. Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao issued a statement following the Athletics’ purchase of the land in Nevada, saying she was disappointed the team did not negotiate with the city as a “true partner.”
The Athletics were looking for a new stadium to replace the Oakland Coliseum, which has served as their home park since arriving from Kansas City and where the team’s lease runs through 2024. The A’s looked at a site near Oakland’s Howard Terminal before shifting their focus to the state.
With their future in limbo, Atletika is struggling at a historic level on the field and in the stands.
They are off to a 10-41 start Thursday after taking on the 1932 Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals. Louis Browns in 1897 for the fourth-worst 50-game start in major league history. Their average home attendance of 8,695 is nearly 3,600 fewer fans per game than any other team.
Manfred was in Milwaukee as Wisconsin lawmakers debate potential funding plans for American Family Field, the Brewers’ home stadium since 2001. Manfred expressed confidence the state will work something out.
The Brewers’ lease, which runs through 2030, requires the Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District to cover repairs. Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and his team have said the county doesn’t have enough money to pay for what’s needed, and the state surplus gives it a chance to finance it without imposing new taxes or borrowing money.
“This is a real gem of a stadium,” Manfred said. “It is really important that the existing lease liability is funded in order to maintain this great stadium on a regular basis. It should be done in time.”
Evers proposed spending nearly $300 million in taxpayer money to improve the stadium, a plan that Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos declared dead on arrival. Republicans who control the Legislature have yet to unveil their own alternative, but talks are underway in private.
Vos said he wants to work on a deal that would require the team to commit to staying in Milwaukee longer and not rely as much on money from a one-time budget surplus that is projected to be about $7 billion.
“The choices that are made between different ways in which public funds can be spent are choices that lawmakers have to make,” Manfred said. “What I can say is that this stadium is an asset. The Brewers are interested in a long-term relationship, extending the lease that keeps them here.”
Manfred noted that the situation in Milwaukee is “really the opposite of what happened in Oakland.”
“This is an A-plus facility when it’s built,” Manfred said. “Ben is well maintained. Ownership has committed to not only putting a competitive team on the field, but also doing their part in terms of keeping this stadium. And most importantly, fans enthusiastically supported the darkness. I think the real decision to make here is what can we do to maintain that really great dynamic.
“Oakland, unfortunately, it’s a facility that was never as good as it was when it started. They made some unfortunate decisions to not maintain the stadium the way it should have been maintained. This resulted in a drop in attendance, which affected the quality of product the team could afford to put on the field.”
AP News writer Scott Bauer contributed to this report.
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