MLB raises relocation idea amid Oakland stadium dispute

Major League Baseball’s Oakland A’s could relocate to Las Vegas, Nevada, or another market if a legal challenge against the team’s two-site stadium project isn’t dropped. 

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf confirmed MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred brought up relocation in a recent meeting between the two, but added a firm relocation plan hasn’t yet been established.

“In a recent meeting with the mayor of Oakland, I did mention Las Vegas in the context of pointing out that the A’s might have to relocate if a new stadium can’t be built in Oakland,” Manfred said in a statement. “There is, however, no plan to move to Las Vegas. If it becomes necessary to consider relocation, there will be a formal process that will consider all potential relocation sites.”

The current dispute stems from a lawsuit the city of Oakland filed against Alameda County, California, to block the sale of its share of RingCentral Coliseum to the A’s. The club wants to redevelop the land around its current facility, jointly owned by the city and county, in part to help fund the parallel development of a new ballpark roughly six miles away at Howard Terminal.

The city alleges the county violated local laws for publicly owned surplus land to be considered for affordable public housing before selling to private entities, and that the county failed to act “in good faith” for a required 90 days by directly negotiating with the A’s before considering other options. Schaaf has said the city’s lawsuit was filed over her objections. A hearing on the lawsuit is slated for November 14. 

In the meantime, the A’s have said they were “blindsided” by the lawsuit, which has slowed months of developing progress on the two-site project. And the discussion of Las Vegas has reopened a wound for Oakland officials that have already seen the National Basketball Association’s Golden State Warriors move across the bay to San Francisco and the Chase Center, and the National Football League’s Oakland Raiders plan to move to Las Vegas in 2020.

“Obviously [Manfred] chose his city wisely as far as exposing a pain-point that all Oaklanders feel about losing our sports teams,” Schaaf told KTVU-TV. 

Las Vegas, meanwhile, has generated league-leading attendance levels for its minor league team, the Aviators, which are the A’s top affiliate.