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A’s Facing Potential Ballpark, Revenue Issues

Coliseum City, Oakland

As Major League Baseball closely scrutinizes the team’s use of revenue sharing, the Oakland A’s are also engaged in a complicated ballpark search.

MLB and the MLB Players Association are currently negotiating the next Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), and this process has brought some unwanted attention to the A’s. The San Francisco Chronicle recently reported that the union and some owners are getting frustrated with the A’s consistent collection of revenue sharing money, which the franchise  receives largely because of the issues attached to the antiquated Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.  This has prompted some speculation that the franchise could be cut off from some of its revenue sharing dollars, which would also direct more scrutiny toward its annual payroll.

Meanwhile the effort to replace the Coliseum has seen momentum in recent months, but is still not close to coming to fruition. The A’s are trying to secure both funding a site for a new ballpark in Oakland, a search that is complicated by the Oakland Raiders and their desire to move to Las Vegas. If the Raiders fail to move to Las Vegas, the most logical backup plan is a new stadium on the Coliseum site a plan which, while complicated and far from certain, could force the A’s to look elsewhere in Oakland for a new ballpark.

This critical mass of issues could cause problems for the team, as Ray Ratto of CSN Bay Area recently explained:

Even on the field, they wait, for the right time to plan a future run at a title, and the right future always takes a back seat to a nebulous and low-cost present. And it sounds like the MLB powers are tired of waiting for them to stop waiting.

But the worst-case scenario for John Fisher/Lew Wolff, et. al., is the Raiders staying in Oakland at the same time that Major League Baseball’s revenue sharing pixie stops filling their pockets, because it means the two reasons they own the team — making money with a new stadium, and making money with the kindness of strangers — will disappear entirely, and selling the team under those conditions will be considerably more difficult.

So while Major League Baseball may decide to do nothing more strident than view the A’s situation with more skepticism and less charity, Fisher and Wolff are now seeing a potentially grim end where a month ago they saw nothing but rainbows and children’s choirs. They are never free and clear of the wolves that nip at their heels, but one way or another, their typical position of standing still and getting paid for just hanging around is becoming less of an option.

For his part, commissioner Rob Manfred has been very vocal about his desire to see the A’s remain in Oakland, and recently expressed hope that the team would come to a solution on the ballpark sooner rather than later. Sorting out the funding and site issues related to the ballpark is clearly going to take time, but the A’s have a direct incentive to show visible progress on the effort.

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