A's set to talk to Oakland

It has been reported by John Shea that the A’s are set to meet with Oakland and Alameda County officials to discuss a lease extension at the Coliseum and avoid furthering the PR disaster that has been their “relocation attempt”.

This may be good news for Oakland who now has 100% of the leverage and it may end up being the most important set of meetings for this process thus far. Not only does Oakland have the keys to the ballpark for the 2025-2027 seasons but they now control virtually all of the team’s income.

It’s become pretty apparent that John Fisher can’t find financing for his Vegas stadium and if the team isn’t playing in Oakland after 2024, they lose their TV contract. Good luck finding financing when your main revenue stream disappears, Johnny. You also have to assume that it will be near impossible to sign any players to the team if they’re playing in minor league parks across the country. Staying in Oakland will help clear that hurdle, at least marginally.

There’s also the fact that playing in those parks will probably cost the team millions of dollars in renovations to make them at least somewhat major league acceptable so Fisher could be looking at needing to finance over $1B for Vegas plus millions for temporary housing all without ticket sales or tv money coming in.

What does Oakland have to lose at this point? Some parking revenue, a handful of temporary minimum wage jobs (that the A’s have been understaffing anyway), and concession taxes in a park that will likely host fewer than 5,000 fans on average. The play here is for Oakland to make some demands.

Forget about Howard Terminal. No matter what happens in Oakland or Las Vegas, John Fisher cannot see that project to completion. He doesn’t have the money. That’s why a $15B real estate empire was so willingly demoted to a $1B stadium on borrowed land in an undesirable location. So forget HT, and go into these meetings with a plan to build at the current site.

Is it ideal? That’s debatable. Is it as romantic as a waterfront ballpark? Maybe not. Is it their best, fastest, and cheapest option? Absolutely. If Oakland is serious about keeping the A’s, they need to realize they have ALL the power right now. The fact that the A’s are even entertaining an extension should be proof enough that things are not working out the way they had hoped so Oakland has the team in a “must-swing” count.

Agree to the extension only if the A’s agree to at least open up good faith negotiations on building at the current site. It’s unreasonable to demand they stay but the city should at least keep the conversation going. Fisher won’t sell but he’s failing at every level of this move so good faith negotiations may be more productive this time around.

Also, forget the ancillary development. Fisher has proven that that particular insistence wasn’t all that important to him so just focus on a gorgeous new park right where the current one sits that can be done in the time frame they desire, for the budget they can finance, and with all the PR drama finally turning in their favor.

Remember, this team was done talking to Oakland for months. The idea of an extension was just ludicrous to them. Yet here we are. Oakland has to remember, they have all the leverage, they have what the team needs, they have a solution that works for all parties, and they have the money so long as Fisher isn’t trying to build an entire downtown on his own.

If Oakland goes into these talks just assuming that it’s “only about an extension” then they didn’t really want to keep the A’s in the first place. We’ve seen time and time again, there is no momentum in Vegas, there is no excitement in Vegas. The eyes of the world were on Las Vegas last week and the A’s didn’t capitalize on it at all but on the day they announce the hiring of the first female play-by-play broadcaster (yeah! by the way), it’s announced that they want to talk leases? They’re in trouble, the Vegas deal and timeline are in trouble, and Oakland is in the driver seat.

Drive it home, Oakland.

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