Oakland mayor has doubts about viability of A's Vegas ballpark plans
Oakland mayor Sheng Thao expressed her doubts about owner John Fisher's ability to move the Athletics to Las Vegas, adding another dissenting voice to a growing chorus of skeptics about the viability of the relocation plan.
"We're seeing that he has the same issues going to Las Vegas," Thao told Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic on Thursday. "There was a thought that this plan he had in the beginning was viable. And now we're seeing that actually, maybe the plan isn't viable. The question becomes, are the plans not viable, or is it that the ownership's not viable?"
Thao's comments came days after Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman made remarks that appeared to go against the pending move. During an interview with the "Front Office Sports Today" podcast on Monday, Goodman said the A's choice to build on the Las Vegas Strip over a downtown location left her questioning whether the team should leave Oakland.
"I've lived in (Las Vegas) this year, (for) 60 years. ... I personally think they've gotta figure out a way to stay in Oakland and make their dream come true," Goodman said on the podcast.
However, the mayor issued a statement the following day, saying she's "excited" about baseball coming to Vegas.
Another possible wrench in the A's relocation came this week when a Nevada teacher's union sued the state and Gov. Joe Lombardo over the plan to fund a Vegas stadium with taxpayer money. The teachers claim that a bill passed last year providing up to $380 million in public funds to build the stadium violates Nevada's constitution, according to Evan Drellich of The Athletic.
In November, MLB owners unanimously approved the A's move to Las Vegas, where the club plans to build a ballpark on the Strip at the Tropicana hotel site. The relocation would occur after the upcoming season when the team's lease at the Oakland Coliseum expires, although the new facility won't be ready until at least 2028. The A's have reportedly scouted temporary homes for the intervening seasons, both in the Las Vegas area and elsewhere.
The obstacles have left Thao somewhat hopeful Oakland can mount a rally to keep the A's. Despite Fisher giving no indication he'll sell the team, Thao said the city has spoken with several groups about buying the franchise and keeping it in Oakland if the Las Vegas project falls through. She added that the Coliseum lands and the Howard Terminal waterfront site remain "viable" ballpark options.
"This is not my first rodeo with regard to working with this ownership. I think we kind of knew there would be the possibility of an inability to actually complete a project (in Las Vegas)," Thao said. "I've always stated until the shovel hits the ground, we're going to continue to fight."