Oakland crafts 5-year lease extension for Athletics

The city of Oakland will present Athletics ownership with an offer to extend the team’s lease that includes a five-year contract with an opt-out after three years, as well as a requirement the team pays a $97 million “extension fee,” according to document obtained by ESPN and KGO-TV in San Francisco on Saturday.

The team and the city will meet on Tuesday, the third formal meeting between the two sides since the Athletics received unanimous approval from major league owners to move the franchise to Las Vegas.

The team is hoping its stadium in Las Vegas, on the site of the soon-to-be-demolished Tropicana Casino and Resort, will be completed in time to open the 2028 season. With the Coliseum lease expiring at the end of this season, that leaves at least a three-year gap the Athletics and Major League Baseball need to fill.

Commissioner Rob Manfred has expressed a desire to have the team’s interim plans completed by early summer for future scheduling purposes, but he has said only that the team’s temporary home will be “someplace in the West.” The A’s have been in negotiations with Sacramento and Salt Lake City in addition to Oakland, and the idea of a three-year stint in Sacramento — allowing the team to keep a larger percentage of its reported $67 million in yearly local television revenue than it would in Salt Lake City — has gained traction in recent weeks.

The city is proposing the five-year lease with the opt-out after three to safeguard itself in case there are construction delays in Las Vegas or the deal falls through. According to the offer sheet obtained by ESPN and KGO-TV, the city has dropped previous requirements that called for MLB to keep the A’s name and colors in Oakland, as well as a demand that MLB guarantee the city a future expansion team.

“We are very interested in doing business, and in having the A’s stay in Oakland,” said Leigh Hanson, the city’s chief of staff. “Part of that is helping them solve this interim location challenge and just being clear in what we expect in return.”

The $97 million extension fee, a number Hanson terms nonnegotiable and will be owed by the team even if it opts out after three seasons, figures to be the biggest point of contention in the upcoming negotiations. Sources indicate the A’s, who currently pay just $1.5 million in rent to play in the Coliseum, offered a two-year deal and payments of $7 million and $10 million over the course of the lease, contending they have options after two seasons.

The $97 million — the shortfall the city says Fisher walked away from on the multibillion-dollar Howard Terminal project — is what Hanson says the city needs from the A’s to help the Oakland’s $170 million general fund deficit. She indicated the city will earmark those funds to cover public-safety expenses.

The city is also asking the team to assume the costs of switching over the Coliseum playing field for the Oakland Roots SC, which plays in the United Soccer League.

The city is also asking the Athletics to sell the 50% share of its ownership in the Coliseum complex — an agreement that has agreed to but not finalized — to a local developer to allow the city to move forward with redevelopment of the site. Both of those conditions were covered during previous negotiations and are not expected to be contentious.

“I remain committed to doing everything in my power to keep the A’s in Oakland,” Oakland mayor Sheng Thao said in a statement to ESPN. “The terms we have proposed for a lease extension at the Coliseum are clear, reasonable and achievable. Having Major League Baseball in Oakland is what is best for the owners, the league, the players and most importantly, the fans.”

In addition, the city is asking for a commitment from Major League Baseball on one of three options: 1) a one-year exclusive right to solicit ownership of a future expansion team; 2) vote to leave the A’s colors and name in Oakland, or; 3) facilitate the sale of the A’s to a local ownership group.

Oakland’s appeal to owner John Fisher and the A’s includes the $67 million annual local television revenue and the convenience of not having to uproot the team and its employees to play in a minor-league stadium in either Sacramento or Salt Lake City, two cities attempting to position themselves as viable options for MLB expansion. West Sacramento is the home of the RiverCats — the Giants‘ Triple-A affiliate owned by Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, who is a friend of Fisher’s.

“The city is putting forward a very reasonable deal,” Hanson said. “We don’t think there’s a poison pill in this deal. We feel this is an accomplishable goal, and we are going forward understanding we have a short window to execute.”

The A’s have drawn just 22,784 fans combined in its first three games of the season, their 56th in Oakland, and have dropped each game to the Guardians. The team has a run differential of minus-19 after those three games after losing 112 games last season. Thursday’s Opening Day game featured a parking lot protest staged by two local fan groups and attended by thousands who refused to buy tickets but remained in the parking lot to watch the contest on a blowup projection screen.

This post was originally published on ESPN

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