The Oakland Athletics have submitted their application to move to Major League Baseball, owner John Fisher told ESPN Thursday, putting the team one step closer to a future in Las Vegas. The fate of the team is now in the hands of the MLB owners.
MLB’s three-man transfer committee, consisting of Kansas City Royals CEO John Sherman, Philadelphia Phillies CEO John Middleton and Milwaukee Brewers Chairman Mark Attanasio, will review the application and make a recommendation to Commissioner Rob Manfred and the MLB Executive Board constituent of eight men. Final approval requires a vote of three-quarters of the team’s 30 owners. No date has been set for the vote.
Fisher, in his first national interview since buying the A’s in 2005, attributed the decision to move the franchise to a number of factors—primarily, the inability of the city of Oakland to keep its promise to provide public funding for the outfield. Infrastructure at Howard Terminal, a $12 billion 55-acre waterfront real estate/soccer stadium development.
“In the end, we concluded that the city did not raise enough funds to cover the commitments it had made,” Fisher said. “We also had a deadline imposed by the collective bargaining agreement a year and a half ago, which required the first team to have a binding agreement for a new stadium by January of 2024 or we would lose out on revenue sharing, which would be hugely detrimental to the club.” organized.”
A spokesperson for Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao responded to Fisher’s assertions Thursday night, saying the city had raised $475 million and was only $101 million away from achieving its goal. In addition, two grants totaling another $65 million are scheduled to be paid out next month, bringing the city within $36 million of its share.
The team’s lease on the Oakland Coliseum, home to the team since 1968, expires after next season, and the Las Vegas stadium won’t open until 2028 at the earliest. He’s not sure where the team will play in the interim, Fisher said, adding that he would be open to extending the Coliseum’s lease.
The A’s have the lowest salaries in baseball and they did not sign a notable free agent during Fisher’s 18-year tenure. They are in the midst of one of the worst seasons in major league history, going 37-91. After winning 97 games in 2021, the A’s demolished a promising young squad, trading All-Stars Matt Olson, Shaun Murphy and Matt Chapman before the start of the 2022 season.
That will change once the team moves to Las Vegas, Fisher promised, citing the proposed $1.5 billion private financing for a 33,000-seat ballpark on nine acres on the Strip.
“We wouldn’t have made this kind of investment if we weren’t planning to put a team on the court that could win a World Series,” Fisher said. “We understand that Vegas wants a winner and demands a winner.”
Fisher and Low Wolf bought the A brand in 2005 for $180 million. Forbes estimates the current value of the team at $1.2 billion. On Thursday, Fisher repeated a claim he made earlier in the week to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, saying the A’s lost $40 million in the past year alone. Given the available revenue sources, especially from local and national media rights, this figure raised eyebrows among sports economists.
“I’m the one who writes the checks, so I guess I know what things cost,” Fisher said.
Fisher has been the target of angry fans in Oakland since the Las Vegas plan was announced in April. Green jerseys with “SELL” written across the chest in white appear at every game, as do chants calling for Fisher to sell the team.
When asked what he thought of the protests, Fischer said: “I take it personally, as I should. It’s my decision to move the team. It was my decision. So I understand and appreciate the way the fans feel about that decision.”