LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said he would be disappointed if the Oakland Athletics don't open their proposed Las Vegas ballpark at the start of the 2028 season and expressed skepticism about big leaguers appearing in that year's Olympics.
The A's announced an agreement on May 15 to build a ballpark on the Tropicana hotel site along the Las Vegas Strip, obtained $380 million in Nevada government financing on June 15 and received approval to move from Major League Baseball on Nov. 16 but have yet to release design plans for the stadium. The team has said it hopes to move into a new stadium in 2028.
Manfred said that if a stadium doesn't open by then, he would be “disappointed just in the sense I think it’s the best for the A's and the best for the game."
The proposed ballpark site is just outside Las Vegas. Mayor Carolyn Goodman said this week on the podcast “Front Office Sports Today” that the A’s planned move to the city “doesn’t make sense.”
“The governor, the Clark County officials have all been wildly supportive of the A’s moving to Las Vegas,” Manfred said.
The team's lease at the Oakland Coliseum extends through the 2024 season. It's unclear whether the A's will play 2025 home games in Oakland, Sacramento or a minor league stadium in Las Vegas.
“I’m comfortable with where they are in the process,” Manfred said. “They have options and you know, I think they’re doing a good job of exploring them and making sure we find the best possible opportunity.”
Manfred said a location does need to be known in the next few months.
“It’s hard, even scheduling, although it’s clearly going to be someplace in the West,” Manfred said. "There’s a difference between some places in the West and other places in the West. So we need to get at.”
On other topics:
Manfred held a news conference following an owners meeting. A day earlier, owners were given a presentation by LA 2028 chairman Casey Wasserman on how major leaguers could appear in that year’s Olympics.
“I think the pros are just the potential for association between two great brands, ” Manfred said. “The cons are just you know, it’s the logistics. Everyday games are tough. They’re tough. And, you know, if you look at the calendar, and it’s so complicated by the proximity to what would ordinarily be the All-Star Game.”
While major leaguers technically have been available to national teams for the World Baseball Classic, many pitchers and some other top players were blocked from participating by their clubs.
Baseball was in the Olympics from 1994-2008, dropped and brought back for 2021, then dropped again for 2024 and restored for 2028.
“I have always been of the view that it would be better for us to have a multiple-year commitment,” Manfred said. “I think Casey softened me personally a little bit about that. I don’t know what else to say about it. I still think I would prefer to have one. I’m not sure it’s quite the driving consideration.”
As MLB tries to navigate the implications of the bankruptcy of the Diamond regional sports networks, Manfred said MLB hopes to offer an in-market digital streaming package in 2025, depending on how many team's rights it acquires.
“I think you need to be in the 14-and-growing mode,” he said. ”A lot of that depends on what happens with Diamond."
Manfred said a decision to expand to 32 teams could be made within five years but the new teams wouldn't start play until 2029 at the earliest.
“We’re going to have to get our footing local media a little better,” Manfred said. “I think in times of uncertainty, it’s hard to talk about additional change.
“Look I I got five left, this year and four more,” he said of his term. "Those teams, even if I push the issue, they won’t be playing by the time I’m done. But I would like the process, along, hopefully selected.”
Tampa Bay owner Stu Sternberg updated Manfred on the Rays' plans for a new 30,000-seat ballpark in St. Petersburg as part of a $6.5 billion development project.
“He’s positive about where the substance is,” Manfred said. “We're at the point now where it needs to go. It It takes a long time to get in the ground, get a stadium built and, you know, the sooner the better from my perspective.”
WHITE SOX BALLPARK
The Chicago White Sox led by 87-year-old owner Jerry Reinsdorf unveiled plans in recent weeks for a new ballpark near downtown Chicago to replace Guaranteed Rate Field, which opened in 1991 adjacent to Comiskey Park.
“I think the location would be great for them,” Manfred said. “And I’d love to see Jerry at this point in his career get one done.”
Manfred hopes the proposed $1.725 billion sale of the Orioles from the Peter Angelos family to a group led by David Rubenstein will be completed as soon as possible.
The Los Angeles Dodgers added two-way star Shohei Ohtani ($700 million), pitchers Yoshinobu Yamamoto ($325 million) and Tyler Glasnow ($136,562,500) as part of an offseason spending spree.
“A concern for baseball, and it's always been since I started in 1988. disparity on the revenue and payroll side,” Manfred said, pointing out how concern at this time last year was over spending by the New York Mets. “It’s the time of year to fret about disparity.”
Manfred said tickets sold in the 18-35 age group is up 10% over the last four years and the median ticket age since 2019 has dropped to 45 from 51.
Miami chairman Bruce Sherman and Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno were elected to the eight-man executive council and replaced Detroit chairman Christopher Ilitch and the Los Angeles Dodgers chairman Mark Walter, whose terms expired. The council also includes Philadelphia managing partner John Middleton and Kansas City chairman John Sherman (whose terms expire in 2025), Arizona managing general partner Ken Kendrick and Seattle chairman John Stanton (2026) and San Francisco chairman Greg Johnson and Cleveland chairman Paul Dolan (2027).
AP MLB: https://apnews.com