Rob Manfred discussed a variety of topics in an interview with Chris Russo on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM yesterday, including the commissioner’s latest thoughts on the Athletics’ and Rays’ ongoing attempts to build new ballparks (and thus remaining in their current cities or markets). Since the Athletics’ lease at the RingCentral Coliseum is up after the 2024 season, there is more of a ticking clock to determine their fate, whether the result is the A’s staying in Oakland at the long-gestating Howard Terminal site, or perhaps moving to a new city altogether.
While some steps have been taken this year towards getting the Howard Terminal project off the ground, quite a number of logistical and financial hurdles remain, as outlined last month by Sarah Ravani of the San Francisco Chronicle. As a result, Manfred is “not positive” about the chances of the A’s staying put: “I think the mayor in Oakland has made a huge effort to try to get it done in Oakland. It just doesn’t look like it’s going to happen….Something has to happen. We can’t go five more years in the Coliseum.”
Mayor Libby Schaaf is nearing the end of her second term in office, and is ineligible to run again in the upcoming Oakland mayoral election on November 8. The Athletics’ ballpark proposal (and, more importantly, what civic funds will be involved in the construction process) is only one of several major issues facing Oakland voters, and it is possible an incoming administration might have a differing view on the project altogether.
Oakland mayoral candidate and current city councilor Loren Taylor told NBC Sports Bay Area’s Angelina Martin that “we have a number of points that still need to be worked out before a final decision, not the least of which is the gap on infrastructure [costs] offsite” In regards to the lack of fresh information about the ballpark, Taylor notes that “by some accounts, maybe less noise outside means that we’re getting more work done behind closed doors.”
This is far from the first time that Manfred has publicly weighed in about the A’s and their quest for a new stadium, and even the new Collective Bargaining Agreement contained language concerning the Athletics’ ballpark as a factor in their status as a revenue-sharing recipient. Manfred’s statements to Russo could certainly be interpreted as some public pressure on Oakland city leaders, in addition to simply being the commissioner’s personal opinion on how the situation will play out.
“Given the lack of pace in Oakland, I think [the A’s] have to look for an alternative,” Manfred said, in regards to how the team has been looking into Las Vegas in particular as a possible new destination. However, Manfred was more bullish on the Rays’ chances of remaining, saying that “Tampa’s a viable Major League market” in need of “a properly located facility.”
“I see Tampa differently….I’ve got a lot of faith in [Rays owner] Stu Sternberg. I think they will find a place to get a ballpark built and I think baseball can thrive in Tampa,” Manfred said.
Last winter, MLB’s Executive Council rejected the Rays’ proposal to split time between Montreal and the Tampa area, ending the most unusual of the many ballpark plans floated by the Rays as they look for an alternative to Tropicana Field. These plans have included the exploration of sites in both Tampa and St. Petersburg, ranging from waterfront ballpark concepts to a new stadium (and a “ballpark village” shopping/business/restaurant/housing district) on the Tropicana Field grounds. There is a little more time for the Rays to figure something out, as their next at the Trop isn’t up until the end of the 2027 season.
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