The Oakland Athletics won’t have to pay a relocation fee if they move to Las Vegas, The Post has learned. This is a rare exception that shows the league is worried about the team’s ability to find a good home.
The Oakland A’s and Tampa Bay Rays are thinking about moving to cities that are also reportedly being looked at by possible new teams. People say that the Rays are looking at Orlando, Florida, or Charlotte, North Carolina. People in the know think that they may also propose a new stadium in St. Petersburg, Florida, which is close to where they live now.
But Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed $35 million in funding for a Rays spring training complex this month after the team tweeted about gun control. This shows that the Rays may have to go through more trouble to get state money for any move.
The A’s, on the other hand, were hoping to announce a move to Las Vegas this month, which could depend on getting public funding. Sources say that the team still needs key assurances from Nevada state officials before it can take the next step. At the end of the month, there is also a vote in Oakland about a new stadium, which could make it possible to stay.
People have said that if the A’s left Oakland, where they have been for 54 years, they might have to pay as much as $1 billion to move. But sources say that a relocation fee was not talked about at a meeting of MLB owners earlier this month.
Sources say that sports leagues usually charge relocation fees to stop teams from moving around too much and because they are giving up an expansion fee in a good city that a new team could pay for.
In 2004, when the Montreal Expos moved to Washington, DC, there was no fee because MLB owned the Expos at the time. Before that, the Washington Senators moved from Washington to Arlington, Texas, in 1971.
By not charging the A’s this fee, MLB could help the economy deal with a stadium that is mostly paid for by private money. Sources say that A’s owner John Fisher might get at most $250 million from the government to pay for a new $1 billion domed stadium in Las Vegas. Fisher is said to be worth $3.3 billion. His parents started the Gap chain.
The loss-making Only 8,562 people go to each game at the A’s 54-year-old stadium, which is the fewest in all of baseball. Before the season started, the A’s got rid of most of their best players to cut costs.
The Post reported in April that MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has basically given the A’s permission to move to Las Vegas as long as the Nevada state government pays for some of the costs of a new stadium. MLB could think about putting in place relocation fees, but not for the A’s move, a second source said.
When team owners and sports bankers heard about Manfred’s free pass, they were both surprised. They told The Post about it, but they asked that their names not be used.
One sports investment banker said, “The market a team moves to is the league’s asset.” “I would be surprised if there wasn’t a fee for moving.”
Another sports banker told The Post, “I’m pretty sure there is always a relocation fee.”
In 2017, the NFL’s St. Louis Rams and San Diego Chargers each paid $645 million to move to Los Angeles and share the same stadium. Also in 2020, the Raiders paid $378 million to move from Oakland to Las Vegas.
Before team values went through the roof, the NBA’s last moves were made. Still, the owners of the Seattle Supersonics paid the NBA $30 million to move to Oklahoma City in 2008, and the owners of the Vancouver Grizzlies paid $30 million to move to Memphis in 2001.
In baseball, on the other hand, there are only a few cities with good markets that are far enough away from existing markets to be able to host new teams. Existing teams in the West could stop expansion teams from coming to cities like Austin, Texas, Portland, Oregon, and Vancouver, Canada. Sources say that leaves Las Vegas as one of the only markets that could work in the western US.
Last year, MLB said that the costs of adding new teams could be as much as $2.2 billion. There has been talk of adding two more teams, including one in Nashville, but Major League Baseball (MLB) first wants to solve the problems in Oakland and Tampa.