The Oakland A's will begin to explore options for a possible relocation, Major League Baseball said in a statement released by the team. Major League Baseball suggested the organization to consider moving to another city if their proposal for a new ballpark, Howard Terminal Stadium, fails to garner approval from the local government. The A's have played in Oakland since 1968 and are hoping to move from the aging Oakland Coliseum to a waterfront ballpark.
Howard Terminal has spent years in limbo and undergone three major redesigns in the past four years; the club first unveiled their plans in 2018. Even before Howard Terminal, the team had multiple sites for a new ballpark in Oakland, Fremont and San Jose, though none resulted in a groundbreaking.
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Despite the Athletics' 10-year lease agreement to stay at the Coliseum expiring in 2024, the team had originally planned for a 2023 opening of Howard Terminal. Here's the statement from MLB:
MLB is concerned with the rate of progress on the A's new ballpark effort with local officials and other stakeholders in Oakland. The A's have worked very hard to advance a new ballpark in downtown Oakland for the last four years, investing significant resources while facing multiple roadblocks. We know they remain deeply committed to succeeding in Oakland, and with two other sports franchises recently leaving the community, their commitment to Oakland is now more important than ever.
The Oakland Coliseum site is not a viable option for the future vision of baseball. We have instructed the Athletics to begin to explore other markets while they continue to pursue a waterfront ballpark in Oakland. The Athletics need a new ballpark to remain competitive, so it is now in our best interest to also consider other markets.
If their proposal is accepted, the new stadium would allow the A's to move out of the multipurpose Oakland Coliseum (renamed RingCentral Coliseum in 2020), which was built in 1966. The news of a possible relocation for the A's is a move that could put pressure on local government officials to approve the new stadium project.
A's president Dave Kaval also released a statement on Twitter:
With the departures of the NFL's Raiders and the NBA's Golden State Warriors, who used to play at the adjacent Oracle Arena, the A's are the lone tenant and last remaining professional sports team to be using the Coliseum. The Raiders moved to Las Vegas in 2020 and the Warriors relocated to San Francisco ahead of the 2019-20 season.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has been vocal that the A's and Rays need new ballparks before the league will consider expansion. ESPN's Jeff Passan reports Las Vegas seems like the likeliest option for a possible A's relocation, following the Raiders and NHL's Golden Knights. In the past, Manfred has suggested Portland, Vancouver, Nashville, Charlotte, and Montreal as potential expansion sites.
Howard Terminal -- if completed -- would be the smallest in MLB. Meanwhile, the Coliseum would be converted into a park, tech center and housing.