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Latest On Oakland’s Proposal To Keep A’s Through 2025-27 Seasons

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TODAY: After today’s meetings, the Athletics released a statement to media saying “We appreciate Oakland’s engagement and also we are far apart on the terms needed to agree on an extension.”  Oakland mayor Sheng Thao also issued a statement, saying “Oakland made a fair and reasonable offer to the A’s.  We await their response and look forward to continuing discussions as necessary.”  John Shea and Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle note that the city and Alameda County “are not unified in their negotiations for the lease extension with the team,” though Alameda County supervisor David Haubert described today’s talks as “a productive meeting.”

The A’s will turn from this meeting to another set of meetings Wednesday with Ranadive and Sacramento officials, as per another report from John Shea.

MARCH 31: Officials from the Athletics and from the city of Oakland are set to meet Tuesday to further explore the possibility that the A’s could remain at the Coliseum through the 2027 season, as the team is looking for somewhere to play until their planned new ballpark in Las Vegas is ready for Opening Day 2028.  Some major details of the city’s latest proposal are already known, as ESPN’s Tim Keown and KGO-TV San Francisco report that Oakland is offering a five-year lease at the Coliseum covering the 2025-29 seasons, with an opt-out clause after 2027 so the team can depart if its new Vegas stadium is indeed ready on time.

The price tag for the new lease is $97MM, which the city demands that the A’s pay in full whether they stay for a three-year or five-year team.  This stands out as the largest hurdle to an agreement between the two sides, as Keown notes that two other provisions “are not expected to be contentious” — the A’s would have to sell their 50% share in the Coliseum and surrounding land, and the team would also have to pay to convert the Coliseum’s surface into a soccer-ready state for the United Soccer League’s Oakland Roots SC franchise.

The city is putting forward a very reasonable deal,” Oakland chief of staff Leigh Hanson said. “We don’t think there’s a poison pill in this deal.  We feel this is an accomplishable goal, and we are going forward understanding we have a short window to execute.”

Oakland’s offer also removes two previous demands from the city, covering the idea of Oakland retaining the Athletics name and team colors, or that Major League Baseball would guarantee Oakland a new team in the next round of expansion.  The new offer instead asks that the league commit to one of three options — either a vote on Oakland’s retention of the A’s name and colors, or helping work out a sale of the Athletics to an Oakland-based ownership group, or “a one-year exclusive right to solicit ownership of a future expansion team,” as Keown puts it.

The $97MM figure is “the shortfall the city says [A’s owner John] Fisher walked away from on the multibillion-dollar Howard Terminal project” Keown writes, referring to the long-discussed plan to build a new ballpark for the A’s in Oakland’s Howard Terminal area.  Those plans fell through, of course, when Fisher instead pivoted for a new city entirely with the move to Las Vegas.

Needless to say, there is a large gap between the city’s ask of $97MM and what the A’s are offering, which is $17MM over the course of a two-year lease covering the 2025 and 2026 seasons.  The 2027 season isn’t included since the team is “contending they have options,” which likely implies a one-year move to another city or perhaps to the Athletics’ Triple-A affiliate’s current ballpark in Las Vegas.  Staying in Oakland through 2026 would give the club more time to fully plan out their temporary pre-Vegas landing spot, whereas there’s a ticking clock now given that the Athletics’ current lease at the Coliseum expires after the current season.

This urgency might give the city some leverage in negotiations, though the A’s have reportedly explored other locations like Salt Lake City and Sacramento as possible homes for the 2025-27 span.  Sacramento was considered the favorite alternate spot besides a lease extension in Oakland, and John Shea and Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote on Friday that multiple league sources feel the Athletics will ultimately end up in Sacramento for a variety of reasons.

The Athletics’ TV contract with NBC Sports California has loomed as a major factor in the situation, as the deal (which pays the A’s upwards of $67MM per season) requires the team to actually be located in the Bay Area.  Shea and Ostler write that the A’s are also in talks with NBC Sports California about a revised contract, and speculate that “if the A’s could cut a new deal for, say, half that amount, they might grab it.  They’d be losing tens of millions per year, but they’d still be making tens of millions, and could make up any shortfall in other ways.”

Ultimately it might come down to how the math works out between the $97MM figure proposed by the city, and what the A’s could get from a renegotiated contract with NBC Sports California.  Just staying in Oakland would naturally make the TV situation a moot point, and the A’s organization would also avoid the logistical complications of playing in a minor league ballpark and temporarily moving its entire infrastructure to Sacramento, while also prepping for another move to Las Vegas in the near future.

However, Shea and Ostler feel Fisher might not be bothered by these complications, and could prefer to leave Oakland behind entirely while also keeping his 50% share of the Coliseum.  The city and Alameda County’s desire for full control over the Coliseum gives Fisher some leverage, since “the danger to Oakland here is that [Fisher] has no plan” for his share of the ballpark, Shea and Ostler write, and Fisher “is simply intending to squat on that site and wait for a big-profit sale sometime down the road.”  That said, Fisher could also view selling his share of the Coliseum as a method of cutting ties with Oakland, generating some short-term money, and avoiding some ongoing and pending legal challenges facing Alameda County’s half-sale of the Coliseum’s ownership.

Sacramento is currently the home of the Giants’ Triple-A affiliate, and how that team would co-exist with the A’s over three seasons has yet to be determined, should the Athletics indeed wind up in California’s capital city.  Vivek Ranadive (owner of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings) owns the minor league franchise, and is both a friend of Fisher and has ambitions of eventually owning a Major League Baseball team himself.  Though Fisher has stated that he has no plans to sell the Athletics, there is still seemingly enough uncertainty surrounding the franchise that it doesn’t seem out of the question that Fisher could ultimately sell the A’s to Ranadive, Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob, or perhaps Ranadive and Lacob working in the same ownership group, as Shea/Ostler opine.

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