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Elephant Rumblings: MLB removes relocation fee if A’s move to Vegas

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MLB Owners Meetings Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Happy Tuesday, Athletics Nation!

While we are awaiting the BCDC vote this Thursday that is the next big hurdle to clear for the Howard Terminal ballpark project (and things are looking good!), the A’s and MLB have still been working on the oft brought up parallel path for the Athletics to move to Las Vegas if the Oakland park is untenable. Vegas talks have been generally quiet for the last bit, mostly since the Nevada state government made it clear that they did not want to help fund ballpark construction. Yesterday, word came out that MLB would offer an extra boon to the A’s if they leave Oakland.

Reporting for the New York Post, Josh Kosman brought forth the news that MLB has offered the A’s a special deal: if the team moves to Las Vegas they would not have to pay the usual relocation fee. The expectation currently is that the fee would be over one billion dollars, making this a huge get for penny-pinching A’s ownership. With the Athletics going through a two decade-long process to sort out a new stadium in the Bay Area there is hopefully an end in sight before November’s municipal election, but things aren’t set in stone yet.

If all goes well with outcome of the Howard Terminal process there could still be use for the development put into Vegas by the A’s. According to Mick Ackers of the Las Vegas Review Journal, the A’s have currently narrowed their Vegas options down to two sites, though they still face a lack of funding from the Nevada government.

Having a site ready for stadium development, and having it potentially owned or earmarked by an MLB team, means that Las Vegas is primed to be an expansion city if the A’s manage to stay in Oakland. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has stated that expansion will happen once the A’s and Rays’ stadiums are settled, and Vegas has become a hot sports market with the addition of NHL’s Golden Knights and the move of the NFL’s Raiders from Oakland to Nevada. The lack of a relocation fee is a nice contingency for MLB, as even if the A’s were to move to Vegas it would just help fast track the timeline for expansion in two other cities and a pair of $2.2B expansion fees to get paid to the league.

MLB seems ready to get a team in Las Vegas one way or another, but if all goes well with Howard Terminal the removal of a relocation fee will be moot. Check back on Thursday to see the results of the BCDC vote and the next steps for the Athletics new home.

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