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September 18, 2021

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Oakland council votes yes on A’s ballpark plan, but team still looking at Las Vegas

Oakland A's

Jeff Chiu / AP

Oakland Athletics’ Yusmeiro Petit, bottom center, pitches against the Boston Red Sox during the eighth inning of a baseball game in Oakland, Calif., Saturday, July 3, 2021.

Updated Tuesday, July 20, 2021 | 8:27 p.m.

The Oakland City Council today approved a term sheet for a ballpark and land development proposal that would lead to a $1 billion new home for the Oakland A’s, but it's unclear if the vote will be enough to keep the baseball team at the negotiating table instead of leaving the San Francisco Bay Area city.

The vote was the latest step in a process by which city leaders and officials from the A’s have tried to hammer out a deal for a waterfront ballpark to get the Major League Baseball team to stay put.

The 6-1 vote backed the proposal that requires the development to include affordable housing, tenant protections and environmental measures.

Mayor Libby Schaaf and council leaders said the vote marks a milestone in negotiations, despite city officials being able to reach a deal with the team in last-minute negotiations.

“This is the path to keeping the A’s rooted in Oakland in a way that protects our port and taxpayers and will produce the benefits our community demands and deserves,” the city leaders said in a statement.

But A's President Dave Kaval said the financial terms do not work for the team.

“To vote on something we have not been privy to and not had time to digest is a difficult thing for us. It’s hard to understand how that is a path forward," Kaval said at the meeting.

As talks between the city and the team have moved forward in recent months — often in a contentious manner — A’s officials have openly considered the possibility of a move to the Las Vegas area.

Following the meeting, Kaval said he was disappointed by the day’s outcome, though he said it would be possible for the A’s to still work out a ballpark deal at the Howard Terminal site.

He said a group of team officials will be in Southern Nevada to look at ballpark sites beginning Wednesday. One of the landowners they will visit, Kaval said, will be Phil Ruffin, owner of Treasure Island and Circus Circus.

“It’s important that we have options,” Kaval said. “In Oakland, I think the biggest obstacle now is time. We’ll work with Major League Baseball to get their point of view, and we’ll keep our parallel paths going.”

The team has said it is considering more than 20 possible ballpark sites around the Las Vegas Valley, including in Henderson and Summerlin.

"We are open to continuing discussions with the Oakland A’s on the possibility of relocating to Henderson,” city spokeswoman Kathleen Richards said in a statement.

It remains unclear how any stadium project in the valley would be funded. Most professional sports stadiums built in the United States in the past three decades have been at least partially funded by public money, including the $2 billion Allegiant Stadium, home to the Las Vegas Raiders NFL franchise.

The A’s have stated that they would like to have a ballpark deal in Oakland before the City Council’s August recess.

Today’s vote allows the team and the city to move forward in negotiations for the 55-acre Howard Terminal site. The A’s and Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred have expressed urgency for a ballpark solution in Oakland.

The team’s home ballpark, RingCentral Coliseum, is widely considered to be one of the worst home parks in baseball. The aging stadium has been the team’s home since the A’s moved to Oakland from Kansas City in 1968.

The A’s are the last professional franchise remaining in Oakland after the NBA's Golden State Warriors relocated to San Francisco and the NFL’s Raiders to Las Vegas. The defections weigh heavily on the Bay Area city of roughly 400,000 people, some of whom pleaded with the council Tuesday to work harder to keep the team and accompanying coliseum jobs.

Others, like Emily Wheeler, said good riddance: “The A’s are like an abusive boyfriend and you need to stand up to them."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.