MLB Threatens To Move Oakland A’s To San Francisco Over Stadium Lease Debate


Major League Baseball has blocked the Oakland Athletics’ proposed move to San Jose, since the nearby San Francisco Giants say San Jose is in their market, but that doesn’t mean MLB is unwilling to help the A’s keep all their options open in finding a deal that works elsewhere.

So with the A’s and the city of Oakland negotiating new lease terms on O.Co Coliseum, and with the city demanding more revenues from non-baseball concession events and a longer-term lease that would keep the team in Oakland for the near future, Major League Baseball is putting its foot down in a whole new way: if Oakland’s Coliseum Authority doesn’t agree to a new short-term lease on the terms the A’s and MLB wants, the league will move the team to San Francisco for the next two years and allow it to play its home games at AT&T Park, the home of the Giants. The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

We’re told MLB is also demanding that the Coliseum give the A’s just a two-year lease extension – not the five- to eight-year deal the authority has been pushing.

The short-term lease would give the A’s more flexibility should the team’s owners swing a deal to move to San Jose – or beyond.

The sticking point in the Coliseum negotiations hasn’t been the length of the lease so much as the money from food and beverage concessions. Under their old lease, the A’s managed the concessions for all sporting events at the stadium, including for the Raiders, and they got a major share of the revenue – terms the Coliseum Authority wants to change in its favor.

So there you go. If the city and county don’t give in to the A’s demands to hand over a cut of revenues from non-baseball events and a favorable lease that makes it easy to get out of Oakland whenever they find a suitor, Major League Baseball will instead move the team out of Oakland right away. And when San Jose can’t happen and no other city is ready to step up immediately, well, MLB will just move the team across the bay and figure out all of the scheduling conflicts and potential problems later. No problem, after all, is bigger than a stadium that is insufficiently lavish, except for a city or county that is unwilling to fork over hundreds of millions of dollars to build one that is.

Of course, it’s probably going to work. Oakland will almost surely agree to the shorter lease and the lower revenues, meaning the public will again hold the short end of the stick financially until the A’s get out of town for good (unless they get a new stadium from Oakland first). It doesn’t matter how much the A’s (or the Warriors, or the Raiders) mean to the city, or how much a city might need the extra money. This is a profit-maximizing business, and if taxpayers in one city aren’t willing to hand over millions of dollars to ownership, ownership will find taxpayers in another city who will. And the leagues — in this instance, Major League Baseball — will be there to assist them every step of the way.