On Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Rays will host the Houston Astros in Game 4 of the American League Divisional Series. Because the game is taking place at Tropicana Field, it stands to reason that some of the focus will be on the Rays' attendance and stadium woes. Yet the Rays aren't the only team grumbling about a new ballpark. The Oakland Athletics, who were defeated by the Rays in last week's AL Wild Card Game, have been trying to secure a new field of their own.
Part of the process for securing a new stadium is threatening politicians and fans with relocation. Sure enough, commissioner Rob Manfred recently did something close to that, warning Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and City Councilman Larry Reid that the Athletics could take their bats and their gloves and follow the Raiders to Las Vegas if they don't get their way.
Here's part of what Manfred said, per what Reid told the San Francisco Chronicle: "The commissioner pointed out that Bay Area fans will soon be going to Las Vegas to see the Raiders and that unless things changed, Bay Area fans may be going to Las Vegas or elsewhere to see the A's as well." Schaaf, for her part, corroborated Reid's account on Tuesday, saying, "The reports of that are accurate. That is the city that came out of his mouth."
Ignoring the notion that Oakland-based fans would regularly drive eight-plus hours to Las Vegas to watch their team play, Manfred's consternation stems in part from a city-filed lawsuit. Oakland is suing Alameda County to prevent it from selling the Coliseum to the A's as part of a redevelopment plan that would then see the team build a new ballpark while maintaining ownership of the old stadium's site. (Schaaf, for her part, has said she hopes the city "suspends" the suit.) Here's more information on that mess, courtesy of the Chronicle:
Oakland asked a judge to issue an injunction to stop the sale of the land and to force the county to instead enter into negotiations to sell the land to the city. The site, the largest swath of publicly owned land in Oakland, is jointly owned by the city and the county, and the A's have agreed to pay the county $85 million for the county's 50% share.
Essentially, it boils down to the city believing the county violated a state law that mandates publicly owned lands must be "considered for affordable housing before the lands are sold or leased." That doesn't mean Alameda County couldn't eventually sell the land to the A's -- they would, however, need to enter into a 90-day negotiation period with the city beforehand.
If all of this seems too far into the legal weeds … well, fair enough. But there are a couple takeaways here. Foremost, this is not an issue that's likely to be resolved overnight, or anytime in the short term. Additionally -- and perhaps more importantly -- this won't be the last time Manfred rattles his saber about relocation. (Just be thankful he didn't.)
The Coliseum, by the way, has been the Athletics' home since they relocated from Kansas City in the late '60s. In recent years, it has become synonymous with sewage leakage, among other undesirable qualities. The aforementioned Raiders will be vacating the stadium after this season, moving to Allegiant Stadium, which is located in Paradise, Nevada and should be completed ahead of the 2020 NFL season. It's unclear if the Allegiant is being proposed as the A's next home as well.