Manfred, MLB Reiterate Commitment To Oakland Market
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said that he "remains committed to Oakland as a major-league market despite the A's continued failed attempts to secure a ballpark site," according to John Shea of the S.F. CHRONICLE. The A's were "rejected in December in their latest bid to find a new home, this one near Laney College." The team said that it will announce its next target, either the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum site or Howard Terminal, "by the end of this year." Manfred said the Laney College venture was "an unfortunate misstep, but there is no human endeavor where you get it right every single time." Manfred added that A's Managing Partner John Fisher, who has not commented on any ballpark pursuits, would "agree." Manfred said that "both remaining sites are viable" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 7/18). Manfred said, "I believe that there is not another market in the United States that has the upside potential that Oakland has, and I think we would regret leaving Oakland if we did that." Manfred also said that he was encouraging the A's to get to a new ballpark site decision "sooner rather than later ... so that you can get to the next step, which is determining whether you have the economic viability in terms of financing and the like" (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).
ANOTHER BAY AREA: In Tampa, Marc Topkin notes Manfred yesterday "expressed extreme confidence" in Rays Owner Stu Sternberg to "make a deal" to get the proposed $892M Ybor City ballpark built. Manfred: "He's going to get this done." Manfred said that he "liked the overall plans the Rays unveiled last week for the fixed-roof, glass-walled facility." Manfred said, "I thought the design was innovative and well suited to the Tampa Bay market. ... I also thought the design was imbued with a sense of realism in terms of what it would cost to actually get the stadium built. It's not some crazy -- I think it was economically efficient, let me use that term." Manfred "reiterated his support for the area, despite the ongoing attendance issues at Tropicana Field." More Manfred: "Tampa-St. Pete is a major-league market. And I think Stu believes that, and that's equally important. And that's why we've spent so much time and effort there" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 7/18). Manfred said that the next step for the Rays is a financing plan. He said, "Stadiums are municipal assets. They are indicative of a ... region's status kind of as a major league city, and participation either in terms of businesses or governmental entities in the financing of the stadium I continue to believe is completely appropriate." Manfred: "If you are going to have private financing, the other piece that has to be present is support for the club in terms of attendance, sponsorship and all those great things that put the owner in a position to repay the debt that they inevitably would have to incur to get the stadium constructed" (AP, 7/17).
SIN CITY? In Las Vegas, Bill Bradley notes the city has been "mentioned in the past few years as a possibility" for MLB. Manfred said, "Vegas is a viable expansion alternative. I think it's big enough." Manfred said that before MLB "expands from its current 30 franchises, stadium issues need to be settled in Oakland and Tampa Bay." Manfred: "I would like to get to 32 (teams)." Manfred said that getting to 32 teams would "help MLB move to either four division of eight teams or eight divisions of four teams." MLB currently has "six divisions of five teams, 15 in each league" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 7/18).