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A’s owner Fisher says Vegas move request filed, points finger at Oakland

The Oakland Athletics have submitted their request to relocate to Major League Baseball, owner John Fisher told ESPN on Thursday, bringing the team one step closer to a future in Las Vegas. The fate of the team now lies in the hands of MLB owners.

MLB’s three-man relocation committee, consisting of Kansas City Royals CEO John Sherman, Philadelphia Phillies CEO John Middleton and Milwaukee Brewers chairman Mark Attanasio, will review the request and make a recommendation Commissioner Rob Manfred and the eight members of the MLB Executive Council. Final approval requires a three-quarters vote of the 30 team owners. No vote is expected.

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, including the city of Oakland’s failure to deliver on its promise to provide funding. public for the offsite. infrastructure at Howard Terminal, a $12 billion real estate/baseball field project on 55 waterfront acres.

“Ultimately, we concluded that the city did not raise enough money to cover the commitments it made,” Fisher said. “We also had a deadline imposed by the collective agreement from a year and a half ago which required the A’s to have a binding agreement on a new stadium by January 2024, otherwise we would lose our revenue share, which would be extremely detrimental to the organization.”

A spokesman for Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao dismissed Fisher’s claims Thursday night, saying the city had raised $475 million and was just $101 million short of its goal. Additionally, two grants totaling an additional $65 million are expected to be paid out next month, bringing the city back to $36 million from its share.

The A’s lease on the Oakland Coliseum, the team’s home since 1968, expires after next season, and the Las Vegas stadium won’t open until 2028 at the earliest. Fisher said he doesn’t know where the team will play in the meantime, adding that he would be open to extending the Coliseum’s lease.

The A’s have the lowest payroll in baseball and haven’t signed a top free agent in Fisher’s 18 years in office. 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 young and promising squad, trading All-Stars Matt Olson, Sean 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 $1.5 billion private financing plan for a 33,000-seat ballpark on nine acres on the Strip.

“We wouldn’t be making this kind of investment if we hadn’t planned on fielding a team capable of winning the World Series,” Fisher said. “We understand that Vegas wants and demands a winner.”

Fisher and Lew Wolff bought the A’s in 2005 for a reported $180 million. Forbes estimates the current value of the team at nearly $1.2 billion. Fisher reiterated a claim he made earlier in the week to the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Thursday, saying the A’s lost $40 million last year alone. Given the sources of revenue available, including those from local and national media rights, that figure has raised eyebrows among sports economists.

“I’m the one who writes the checks,” Fisher said, “so I think I know what things cost.”

Fisher has been the target of ire from Oakland fans since the Las Vegas project was announced in April. Green T-shirts with “SELL” written in white across the chest are seen at every game, as are chants for Fisher to sell the team.

When asked about his thoughts on the protests, Fisher replied, “I take it personally, as I should. It’s my decision to move the team. The decision was mine. And so I understand. and appreciate how the fans feel about this decision.”


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