Oakland mayor Sheng Thao met with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred in Seattle during All-Star week festivities and presented him with documented evidence of the city’s plan to build a new ballpark for the Oakland Athletics. She also gave Manfred packets with information on the offer for a new stadium at Howard Terminal to give to each team owner.
Manfred addressed the media back on June 15 and stated that “There is no Oakland offer.” Thao’s office quickly released a statement stating that Manfred’s claim was false.
As per @TheAthletic, here is Mayor Thao’s letter to the Commissioner regarding the Oakland A’s, with copy to all the teams. The Mayor met Manfred on Sunday in Seattle.— Vitamin Dee (@2Legit2QuitDee) July 12, 2023
Total of 17 pages plus tons of supplementary material.https://t.co/2DEbuHJfJY pic.twitter.com/Ccj5veozoc
Thao told The Athletics’ Ken Rosenthal that it was important than not only Manfred, but also the league’s relocation committee have a copy of Oakland’s offer.
“For me, it was very important that (Manfred), and not just him, but the (league’s relocation) committee and the owners had a copy of all that we are presenting, for transparency purposes,” Thao said. “Through the press, we have heard that Manfred has stated there was no proposal. We wanted to dispel that notion. If people were misinformed, we wanted to make sure everybody had all the real-time information of how close we were to a ballpark.”
In a Q&A session with Rosenthal, Thao said that Oakland is willing to improve its initial offer to the A’s if the team was willing to reopen negotiations.
Absolutely. It’s not about me personally. It’s not about John (Fisher) personally. It’s about the multi-generational (aspect), the memories of what the Oakland A’s mean to the Oakland fans. And not just the fans, but the investments in Oakland that this will bring. So even though it’s just a few people at the negotiating table, it’s not about any one of us. It’s the grander scheme of what this means to Oakland.
Thao also disputed the commissioner’s comments about attendance in Oakland and cited the under-investment in the team. There are a lot of good talking points in the interview and it is well worth your time if you have a subscription to The Athletic.
Will any of this make a difference in the long run? Time will tell. The relocation committee feels like the last major hurdle to the A’s relocation to Las Vegas. Manfred has backed the move and it seems unlikely that the committee will go against him. There has been political opposition to the Las Vegas deal, but that hasn’t yet been a big enough stumbling block for the A’s to entertain the idea of reopening negotiations with Oakland. It has felt for a long time that John Fisher’s ultimate goal was to move the Athletics out of Oakland.
Clearly Fisher is to blame here, but you can also wonder if things would have changed if Thao and the City of Oakland had shown this kind of urgency earlier in the process. While there is no doubt that she and city and willing to make concessions to get the Howard Terminal deal done, it feels like a lot of this is happening too late and that there is a bit of saving face involved.