A's still on 'parallel path' exploring future in Oakland -- and Las Vegas

March 5th, 2023

LAS VEGAS -- It’s no secret that during their pursuit of a new ballpark in Oakland, the A’s have concurrently explored potential sites in Las Vegas for a new home. Entering a two-game series in that very city as part of Big League Weekend, the stadium talk was inevitable.

During last month’s Cactus League Media Day in Arizona, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred addressed questions regarding Oakland’s ballpark quest and indicated that he has maintained dialogue with A’s owner John Fisher on a regular basis over the past two months.

Asked whether Fisher prefers securing a stadium in Oakland versus relocating to Nevada, Manfred responded, “I think Mr. Fisher wants to make the best deal to secure the future of the A’s, whether it’s in Oakland or Las Vegas.

“They need a new stadium,” Manfred continued. “I think that’s kind of beyond debate. If he had to rank them one and two, you’d have to ask him that.”

The ongoing process has been spearheaded by Fisher and team president Dave Kaval, allowing baseball personnel to focus solely on the on-field product. But with the A’s in town, those on the baseball side of things were thrust into the conversation prior to Saturday’s 10-9 loss to the Reds at Las Vegas Ballpark.

“It’s been talked about for a long time,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said. “We continue to pursue both in Oakland and in Vegas. We call that the 'parallel path.' We’re always looking for the opportunity in front of us. We’ve had that in Oakland. I know John has done everything he can to get a deal done and continues to do that, and I think he’s doing that in both places.”

The Oakland Coliseum, the A's home ballpark since the club moved to the city from Kansas City in 1968.

For A’s general manager David Forst, who was among the team officials traveling with the club, being in Las Vegas has less to do about a potential relocation and more to do with growing the organization’s relationship with its Triple-A affiliate, the Las Vegas Aviators, who are hosting the weekend series in their home ballpark.

“A lot of us come here a lot during the year to see the team play,” Forst said. “Dave and John work on [the new stadium] side. That doesn’t affect us. ... It just so happens to be in a place that we’re also talking to about a Major League ballpark.”

The A’s had hoped to reach a final vote on their Oakland ballpark proposal by the end of 2022 before former Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf, a longtime proponent of the A’s stadium project, termed out of office. Though Schaaf has now left, new Oakland mayor Sheng Thao recently expressed her desire to carry those ongoing negotiations with the A’s to the finish line.

“We have reconvened negotiations,” Thao said in an interview with ABC 7’s Casey Pratt last month. “I am committed to trying to keep the A’s here in the city of Oakland. Obviously, there is a caveat. I’m not going to go up against my Oakland values, and that is making sure that we are keeping our general fund safe so that we are fiscally responsible. But I am very optimistic about how we are moving forward.”

Asked directly if he hopes the A’s can secure their proposed new waterfront ballpark in downtown Oakland as opposed to a Las Vegas relocation, Forst said he has no preference. All that matters is getting a new stadium, which he believes would put an end to the constant “payroll crunches” the team has dealt with in years past -- and allow the potential for more long-term contracts with key players.

“I don’t take sides,” Forst said. “I have to be focused on us getting a ballpark. Dave is focused on where it’s going to be. We really can’t spend a lot of time thinking about the ‘where’ right now.

“You’re always trying to build a consistently competitive Major League team that has the ability to stay together. We haven’t had the latter part of that in my 23 years here because of the ballpark. That’s the missing piece for us.”