When Major League Baseball in May gave the Oakland A’s permission to seek a new home after long and drawn out negotiations to get a new ballpark built reached an impasse, July 20 was the date everybody was told to circle on their calendars.
That was the day the Oakland City Council would vote on whether to move forward on a $12 billion ballpark and development project at Howard Terminal on the East Bay waterfront. With the A’s continuing to explore relocation opportunities in Southern Nevada, the decision is seen as crucial in determining the ballclub’s fate.
Here’s a list of questions and answers pertaining to Tuesday’s Oakland City Council meeting, and what it means in regard to the A’s relocating to Las Vegas, Henderson, Summerlin or elsewhere:
Q: If the council vote “yes” does it mean the A’s are staying in Oakland?
A: No. A “yes” vote Tuesday is considered non-binding — at least on one of the proposals.
Q: Wait, there are two proposals?
A: Yes, the Oakland City Council has their own proposal that was offered late last week. The A’s have their proposal which was presented two years ago.
Q: So what would a “yes” vote mean?
A: It all depends. If the council says yes to the Athletics’ proposal, it would keep alive Oakland’s hope of hanging on to the A’s. It would buy more time for negotiations. A second vote on whether to approve an environmental impact study on the project likely would follow in September.
Q: So is it expected the council will vote “yes” Tuesday?
A: Probably. Maybe. Who can say for sure? While most observers expect the politicians to kick the can down the road to September, the sides were said to be $500 million apart as recently as Friday.
Q: What are the main points of contention?
A: Setting up special tax districts in areas near the proposed ballpark that would help the A’s recoup money they put into the project, and how much affordable housing and other community benefits the A’s would be willing to provide to the city.
Q: So what are sides saying publicly about Tuesday’s vote?
Q: And the A’s?
A: Less optimistic. Hours after city hall released its most recent term sheet Friday, A’s President Dave Kaval told reporters: “We have some really big pieces here that are still outstanding, and while we’re always open to continuing to negotiate, we’re not in a position where this can work right now.”
Q: What if the council says no to the A’s proposal or yes to the council’s proposal?
A: Game over in Oakland. The “parallel paths,” as Kaval has described negotiations in Oakland and three exploratory vists to Southern Nevada, becomes a singular path. At least until further notice.
Q: Further notice? Isn’t Las Vegas the only city the A’s are considering?
A: So far, yes. But according to Oakland’s Mayor Schaaf, the A’s have received permission from MLB to talk to “at least six other cities” should the council vote “no.”
Q: What is MLB saying?
A: Very little. During last week’s All-Star Game, Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke only of Las Vegas as a legitimate suitor. “Las Vegas is a viable alternative for a major league club, and there are other viable alternatives that I haven’t turned the A’s loose to even explore at this point,” Manfred said.
Q: So why the A’s? Why not the Tampa Bay Rays, whose ballpark lease expires in 2027 and have been linked with potential opportunities in Nashville, Tennessee, and Montreal?
A: The A’s lease at RingCentral Coliseum runs through 2024. The situation in Oakland is more pressing than the one in Tampa. With MLB driving the bus, a new ballpark for the A’s is the No. 1 priority.