The Denver Post

MLB tells A’s to explore relocation if no new park

- By Janie McCauley

Major League Baseball instructed the Athletics to explore relocation options as the team tries to secure a new waterfront ballpark it hopes will keep the club in Oakland long-term.

MLB released a statement Tuesday expressing its longtime determinat­ion that the current Coliseum site is “not a viable option for the future vision of baseball.”

“MLB is concerned with the rate of progress on the A’s new ballpark effort with local officials and other stakeholde­rs in Oakland,” MLB said. “The A’s have worked very hard to advance a new ballpark in downtown Oakland for the last four years, investing significan­t resources while facing multiple roadblocks. We know they remain deeply committed to succeeding in Oakland, and with two other sports franchises recently leaving the community, their commitment to Oakland is now more important than ever.”

A’s President Dave Kaval remains hopeful of a deal, but there is a time crunch.

“We’re going to immediatel­y start working with the league on exploring other markets and working hand in hand with them to identify which ones make the most sense and pursuing that right away,” Kaval told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “We need to keep our options open. People know, we can’t even keep the lights on here at the Coliseum.”

In November 2018, the A’s announced they had found a waterfront location for their new ballpark that would cost more than $1 billion, with picturesqu­e views toward San Francisco, the Bay Bridge and Port of Oakland. The goal had been to open in 2023, but now, even if approved by Oakland’s City Council this summer it would not be ready until 2027.

“We’re hopeful that our really exciting plan for a waterfront ballpark that’s privately financed will be taken up by the city council,” Kaval said. “I think it’s something that is kind of a once-a-generation­al opportunit­y to re-imagine the waterfront. We’re going to continue to pursue that and we’re still hopeful that that could get approved, but we have to be realistic about where we are with the timelines.”

Early this year, Kaval asked the City Council to make a decision via a vote before it breaks for the summer on a $12 billion privately funded ballpark project and major community developmen­t plan featuring $450 million in community benefits, but the team has been given no indication anything is imminent.

“We have an offer in front of the city council that we have not got a response on,” Kaval said. “So I think we’re still doing what we can to pursue the waterfront ballpark, which we think is a dynamic and exciting project but we are running out of time here in Oakland at our existing facility and we need to look at other options to see what might be possible.”

The team’s lease at the Coliseum is up in 2024, but the aging venue where the A’s have played since 1968 is already having lighting and flooding issues.

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