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Elephant Rumblings: Mayor Thao lobbies MLB owners ahead of relocation vote

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Oakland State of the City Address Jane Tyska/Digital First Media/East Bay Times via Getty Images

Happy Friday, Athletics Nation!

The MLB owners’ annual meeting is next week, and a vote on the A’s relocation plan is expected to take place in the course of the proceedings. A’s owner John Fisher needs “yes” votes from at least three-quarters of league owners in order to move forward with his plans to move the team to Las Vegas.

Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao has been busy making the case that the A’s should stay in Oakland, and that if they do move, it won’t be for a lack of effort or urgency on the part of Oakland officials.

On Wednesday, Thao sent a letter to 15 MLB owners explaining why they should oppose the relocation plan. Per Tim Keown at ESPN, recipients of the letter include owners from both large- and small-market teams, such as the Yankees, Dodgers, Rockies, and Mariners.

Thao argues that Oakland has shored up “nearly triple the $380M the A’s have reportedly secured in Las Vegas, for a much smaller stadium project,” including $428 million in public funding for off-site infrastructure and $500 million in “tax increment funding” for onsite infrastructure.

The mayor also appeals to owners’ financial interests, citing the A’s expectation that “hundreds of millions of dollars” in relocation fees would be waived if they move to Vegas. The relocation could also deprive MLB of up to $2 billion in expansion fees that would be collected if Las Vegas became host to an expansion team in the future.

Thao’s 11th hour “stay” campaign may be “too little, too late,” and there is also likely a face-saving motive at play behind this push. But there is no harm in making the effort, and the mayor’s arguments are far more sound than those of Fisher, A’s President Dave Kaval, and MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred in favor of the move. I applaud the last-ditch efforts being made by Mayor Thao and the die-hard fans of the Oakland Athletics.

Have a wonderful weekend, AN.

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