The Oakland Athletics said Thursday they were «excited» about the next steps in applying for relocation after Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo signed into law a Las Vegas stadium funding bill.
Lombardo approved $380 million in public funds to build a $1.5 billion ballpark for the A’s relocation to Las Vegas, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
«I’m excited to officially sign SB1 this afternoon,» Lombardo said. «This is an incredible opportunity to bring the A’s to Nevada, and this legislation reflects months of negotiations between the team, the state, the county and the league.
«Las Vegas’ position as a global sports destination is growing, and Major League Baseball is another great asset to the city.»
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The A’s later released a statement about the bill.
«Today is an important step forward in securing a new home for the A’s,» the team said. “We thank Nevada Governor Lombardo, legislative leaders, and Clark County commissioners and staff for their hard work, support and partnership. We will now begin the process with MLB to apply for relocation to Las Vegas.
«We are excited about Southern Nevada’s dynamic and vibrant professional sports scene, and we look forward to becoming a valued member of the community through jobs, economic development, and the quality of life and civic pride of a Major League Baseball team.»
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The Nevada Legislature on Wednesday approved taxpayer money to partially fund the stadium, which would seat 30,000 and include a retractable roof. The ballpark would be near Allegiant Stadium, home of the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders.
The A’s, whose lease on the Oakland Coliseum expires after the 2024 season, would go from the 10th-largest US television market to 40th, and the stadium’s capacity would be the smallest in the league.
According to the Review-Journal, construction would begin in 2024 or 2025. The stadium would open in 2028. It’s unclear where the A’s would play should their lease run out without an extension.
Earlier Thursday, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred lamented the team’s inability to get a new stadium and defended owner John Fisher, who has remained silent amid the uproar.
«I feel sorry for the fans in Oakland. I don’t like this result. I understand why they feel the way they do,» Manfred said. «I think the real question is what was Oakland prepared to do? There’s no offer from Oakland. They never got to the point where they had a plan to build a stadium anywhere.»
Major League Baseball is about to launch a month-long approval process. Manfred said the team must submit a relocation application explaining its efforts in Oakland and why Las Vegas is a better market. A relocation committee would then define the new operating territory and television territory, then make a recommendation to Manfred and an eight-person executive council.
The council makes a recommendation to all clubs, which must pass the measure with at least three-fourths of the vote.
Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao denied claims that the city did not make a rough offer.
“There was a very concrete proposal under discussion, and Oakland had done everything possible to overcome obstacles, including obtaining funding for infrastructure, providing an environmental review, and working with other agencies to finalize approvals,” said Julie Edwards, the spokeswoman. of the mayor.
«The reality is that the owners of the A’s had insisted on a 55-acre multi-million dollar project that included a ballpark, residential, commercial and commercial space. In Las Vegas, for some reason, they seem satisfied with a ballpark leased from 9 acres on leased land. If they had proposed a similar project in Oakland, we’re sure a new stadium would be under construction by now.»
Manfred said there would be no relocation fee.
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«It’s always been baseball’s policy and preference to stay put. And I think that always factors into any conversation about relocation,» Manfred said. «Having said that, I think the owners generally understand that it’s been a multi-year effort and it’s approaching a decade where, for the vast majority of the time, the only focus was Oakland.»
Associated Press contributed to this report.