The Oakland Athletics announced Tuesday that they will begin looking into the possibility of relocating the team while continuing to pursue a local waterfront ballpark project.
The Athletics have been unable to get approval from city government officials on the ballpark project and their lease atantiquated RingCentral Coliseum concludes after the 2024 season.
Major League Baseball expressed that it is alarmed with the pace of the situation and pointed out that Oakland has recently lost two professional teams -- the NFL's Raiders to Las Vegas and the NBA's Warriors to San Francisco -- in recent years.
"MLB is concerned with the rate of progress on the A's new ballpark effort with local officials and other stakeholders in Oakland," MLB said in a statement. "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."
The Athletics have reportedly proposed private financing on a $1 billion, 35,000-seat ballpark that would be part of a project including housing, office space, retail outlets and a hotel. The franchise formally made the proposal last month and the City Council has yet to endorse the project or hold a vote.
The Athletics are adamant that a new ballpark must be approved if they are to remain in Oakland.
"The future success of the A's depends on a new ballpark," Athletics owner John Fisher said in a statement. "Oakland is a great baseball town, and we will continue to pursue our waterfront ballpark project. We will also follow MLB's direction to explore other markets."
Athletics president Dave Kaval sent an open letter to fans explaining why the team will look at relocation options.
"Today, Major League Baseball instructed the A's to begin to explore other markets while we continue to pursue the Oakland waterfront ballpark project. This is not an easy directive for our fans to hear," the letter said. "We believe in the vision we have presented for a waterfront ballpark; it is a project that will create jobs, housing, open parks and countless community benefits for Oakland residents, and it will set the stage for more World Series titles for our fans. After four years of work, MLB is concerned with the rate of progress with local officials and other stakeholders on our new ballpark efforts. The time is here for a decision on our future, and it is unclear to us and MLB whether there is a path to success for the A's in Oakland.
"A new ballpark is needed for the A's continued success. We agree with MLB's position that the Coliseum location is not a viable option for the future of the franchise. While we remain committed to succeeding in Oakland and will continue to work toward our waterfront ballpark, we will also follow MLB's direction and immediately begin the process of exploring a new home for the A's.
"Please know that one of our top priorities is continuing to create the best experience possible for our fans this season and beyond. We have the best fans in baseball. Your passion for this franchise is truly unmatched, and we are deeply grateful for your continued support of our organization."
Las Vegas would rate as a prime possibility if the Athletics choose to leave Oakland. Other possibilities include Nashville, Charlotte and Portland.
The Athletics moved from Kansas City to Oakland for the start of the 1968 season. They are currently in their 54th season of playing at the Coliseum, which has gone by various names.
--Field Level Media