OAKLAND (CBS / AP / KPIX) — We are just a week away from the Oakland City Council taking a crucial vote on whether or not the A's stay in Oakland. Tuesday, the Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred chimed in as the A's team President Dave Kaval says he is in marathon negotiations to try to get the deal done.
"We're in the bottom of the 9th inning and we're down to our last at bat and the 20th is a critical moment for Oakland to really express their willingness that this shared vision for a waterfront ball park," said Kaval.
Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred echoed the same sentiments at the all-star game saying the Oakland process is at the end and the July 20th vote will determine the fate of baseball in Oakland.
A's managing partner John Fisher and Kaval have proposed a new ballpark in the Howard Terminal area of Oakland, and Manfred said if the stadium project is not approved, the team would move forward with either a move to Las Vegas or a wider relocation search.
"John Fisher and Major League Baseball has done everything humanly possible to get a stadium built in Oakland," Manfred told the Baseball Writers' Association before Tuesday's All-Star Game. "At the point in time that you come to the conclusion that it can't get done, whether you like the market or not, you have to find someplace else to play because you need a facility. It's that simple."
The A's have played at the Coliseum since 1968 and their lease expires after the 2024 season.
After proposing and withdrawing plans for ballparks in Fremont and San Jose, the team announced in November 2018 it had found a waterfront location for a new ballpark at Howard Terminal, close to the Jack London Square neighborhood. The stadium would cost more than $1 billion, with picturesque views toward San Francisco, the Bay Bridge and Port of Oakland.
The Oakland City Council is to consider a non-binding terms sheet on July 20.
The city wants affordable housing and the team to improve the infrastructure in the area surrounding Howard Terminal. The team says it wants the city to pay for infrastructure improvements off site.
"It's still over half a billion dollars apart right now so there is still a lot of work to do. There is a very large gap and we're just hopeful we can get it to a part where it makes sense," said Kaval.
"The Oakland process is at an end," Manfred said. "John Fisher, Dave Kaval have devoted literally millions of dollars to the effort to get a ballpark proposal that could be supported by the city of Oakland and Alameda County. That proposal is in front of the relevant governmental authorities. There are really crucial votes that are going to take place over the next couple of months, and that's going to determine the fate of baseball in Oakland.
"I do want to say this: Those terms that are going to be voted on involve investments of well over a billion dollars by John Fisher and his family, and that is one heck of a commitment to a community. So it's not about that. John Fisher has done everything I've asked him to do in terms of trying to keep the A's in Oakland and more than I asked him to do in terms of financial commitments. So we're going to know one way or the other what's going to happen with Oakland in the next couple of months. And if you can't get a ballpark, I think that that the relocation process, whether it's Las Vegas or a broader array of cities that get considered, is going to take on more pace."
Saundra Fisher, an A's fan says, "It's sad to lose another team but I understand the city of Oakland's perspective about it needing to be a good deal and I understand the a's perspective."
Some fans see both side of the issues but there isn't just a gap in negotiations. Opponents have raised a wide range of concerns, from safety at the Howard Terminal location to demanding the A's give back to fund affordable housing.
Life long Oakland resident Richard Colbert though says his city needs something to generate life and revenue.
"I think that will attract and build a lot of businesses to come to Oakland and to show how beautiful Oakland is," he said. " The only thing we have left to draw anyone outside of California into Oakland is right now the Oakland A's."
Other possible cities for franchises Manfred has mentioned in the past include Charlotte, North Carolina; Montreal; Nashville, Tennessee; Portland, Oregon; and Vancouver, British Columbia.
Manfred said a new stadium at the Oakland Coliseum site was not realistic. The Oakland City Council adopted a resolution last week to enter into non-exclusive negotiations with bidders for the city's share of the site, which the city co-owned with Alameda County, which agreed in 2019 to sell its half to the team over six years.
"There's more than location involved in the viability of a site," Manfred said. "Let's start with the fact that the county and city were joint tenants there, that joint tenancy is a very complicated situation. The city's gone down a different path in terms of entertaining sale of their piece of it to other bidders. It's just not viable at this point. They've got other people looking to develop the site, and most fundamentally, John Fisher is going to invest over a billion dollars. He thinks the place that has the greatest likelihood of success is Howard Terminal."
Manfred said Tampa's ballpark search was less pressing. Rays owner Stuart Sternberg said in December 2018 that he was reopening his stadium site search after concluding plans for Tampa's Ybor City could not be finalized by that month's deadline.
Tampa Bay's lease at St. Petersburg's Tropicana Field ends after the 2027 season. MLB gave permission to the Rays in 2019 to explore splitting their home schedule between the Tampa Bay area and Montreal, which lost the Expos to Washington, D.C., after the 2004 season.
"They got an unbreakable lease that has several years left to run," Manfred said. "Stu is still actively engaged with the possibility of a two-city split. That's a complicated undertaking. But he has had progress in his conversations both in Florida and in Montreal, and I can't really say more than that. But the timeline on that is longer not because we're not doing anything, but because they're in a lease they can't get out of."
Andrea Nakano contributed to this report.
© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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