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Inevitable: A’s, Oakland officials to discuss Coliseum lease extension

Oakland A'sThis was the inevitable outcome after visits to minor-league ballparks and the very real possibility of a 2029 opening: Oakland/Alameda officials and A’s management will meet on Thursday to discuss a Coliseum lease extension, per a published report.

John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle is reporting the scheduling of a meeting regarding a Coliseum lease extension involving Oakland chief of staff Leigh Hanson, City Council member Rebecca Kaplan, county supervisor David Haubert and A’s President Dave Kaval. Neither side, despite some bombastic rhetoric, apparently ever totally closed the door on a Coliseum lease extension, but this will be the first formal meeting to discuss one.

For the A’s, a Coliseum lease extension solves a whole slew of issues. A’s management visited Salt Lake City to see the under-construction new ballpark in South Jordan at the Daybreak development; the ballpark was designed for MiLB but could be “expanded” for major-league play. Sacramento’s Sutter Health Park was also visited, but we didn’t sense any great enthusiasm from anyone in baseball about the A’s playing there, and the idea of the Giants sharing Oracle Park with the A’s didn’t generate any great enthusiasm, either. Staying in Oakland gives a cushion to the A’s should a Las Vegas opening be pushed to 2029, it keeps the team out of an MiLB ballpark, and it maintains the team’s $67-million NBC Sports California contract, which runs through 2034.

For the city and Alameda County, there’s little downside in keeping the A’s in town through 2027 or 2028 via a Coliseum lease extension. A new Las Vegas ballpark is not a sure thing; we’ve been told rising costs are impacting the cost of a proposed fixed-roof ballpark (a $1.5 billion price tag is unlikely; a final cost approaching $2 billion is more likely), and a lease extension could keep the A’s in Oakland if the Vegas pians collapse. The A’s pay $1.2 million in rent annually, more than the independent Oakland Ballers would pay come 2025, and that amount could be negotiated up.

Through we’ve seen daily headlines from desperate media outposts, they’ve contributed very little to the discussion. In the last few months we’ve been in a situation where the A’s have been quietly putting together a ballpark financing plan while working on the design of the facility and a game plan for where the team will play in 2025-2027 or 2028. These are all pretty complex issues, and without many public statements on all three issues, the swirling vortex of hell known as Baseball Twitter has been working overtime pushing unsubstantiated rumors (no, Reno is not a contender to land a temporary tenancy from the A’s; no, the team isn’t going to shut down for three years) and not really understanding the politics of Las Vegas (no, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman really doesn’t have much of a say as to what Clark County Commissioners do—the new A’s ballpark is located in unincorporated Clark County, not the city of Las Vegas—and her preference clearly was seeing the A’s take over the Cashman Field site, located within her city limits). We’ve been reporting since the move to Las Vegas was announced that the nine-acre Tropicana site is too small for a retractable-roof ballpark, so a fixed-roof design a la Allegiant Stadium is much more likely.

So what do we actually know, data that can be verified? Well, we know the ballpark planning proceeds. Bally’s announced the Tropicana Las Vegas resort will close April 2, with preparation for demolition soon to follow. We do know A’s brass visited Sacramento and Salt Lake City in their search for a 2025-2027 home; we do know despite some terrible reporting that the A’s never approached the Reno Aces (Triple-A; Pacific Coast League) about playing at Greater Nevada Field, per Aces head honcho Eric Edelstein. We know that a decision about 2025 needs to made as soon as possible, given that schedules need to be prepared shortly.

We also know that a teachers union plans to sue the state over the Nevada assistance for the project. Just to be clear: there is not $380 million in actual state cash being distributed to the A’s. The state aid consists of tax credits and bonding backed by Clark County, to be repaid from increased tax revenues derived from the ballpark. 

And apart from that? It’s all speculation, lot of “what-of” scenarios designed to stir up the A’s Twitter faithful. We eagerly await renderings; given that construction is slated to begin in 2025, final designs are necessary. (Casual observers, however, overestimate the importance of renderings at this stage; most are conceptual until a final design is nailed down and the first shovels hit the ground.)

So when a clickbait outfit passes about some speculation about the potential move of the A’s to Las Vegas, take it with a huge grain of salt. When a reputable journalist like John Shea reports on a Coliseum lease extension, rely on his expertise.

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