Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke with reporters (including Susan Slusser and Tim Kawahara of the San Francisco Chronicle) today about several topics, including the Athletics’ ongoing plans to build a new ballpark in Las Vegas and move the franchise from Oakland. Over the last two days, the planned move seemingly took a notable step forward, as the A’s and Nevada state officials reached a tentative agreement on a plan to provide $380MM of public money towards the construction of a new ballpark (worth roughly $1.5 billion) on the site of the Tropicana hotel in Vegas.
Though the Tropicana location is the second Las Vegas site the A’s have pursued in under two months, “I think they’re pretty settled on a site [now],” Manfred said. Mick Akers of the Las Vegas Review-Journal also reports that the A’s are solely looking at the Tropicana site and not considering other options.
As to whether or not the Athletics’ plan will come to fruition, Manfred said that he is “optimistic about [a move] happening,” but “It’s very difficult to have a timeline for Oakland until there’s actually a deal to be considered. There is a relocation process internally that they need to go through and we haven’t even started that process.…I don’t have a crystal ball as to where anything’s going. There is not a definitive deal done in Las Vegas and we’ll have to see how that plays out.”
The most obvious roadblock at this point is the fact that the state of Nevada’s contribution to the ballpark is one of many items that hasn’t been approved as part of the state budget. As outlined by Taylor R. Avery of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Nevada’s Senate and Assembly haven’t been able to agree with Governor Joe Lombardo on several aspects of the budget, with Lombardo threatening to veto the Nevada Legislature’s budget proposal “until the policy priorities that I spelled out on day one are on my desk.” The Athletics’ proposal is naturally one of the newer elements to Lombardo’s spending plans, and likely not even the most controversial, as Avery notes that there is a great deal of controversy of several education-related spending priorities that are or aren’t included in the budget to date.
It remains to be seen exactly when or how the budget impasses could be resolved, though Nevada’s legislative session ends on June 5. However, if the ballpark funding issue is solved by then, Manfred said that it is “possible that a relocation vote could happen as early as June,” presumably during the upcoming owners’ meetings. Seventy-five percent of MLB owners would have to vote in favor of the proposal in order for the A’s to officially set their sights on Las Vegas, and a departure from Oakland that would coincide with the end of their lease at the Coliseum following the 2024 season.