Manfred: Likely news on A’s ballpark situation within year

Oakland Coliseum (Ben Margot/AP)

SAN FRANCISCO — Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expects news within a year regarding potential plans for the Athletics to build a new ballpark in Oakland.

Major League Baseball is monitoring weekly calls the A’s are holding to plan for a new stadium, and the low-budget franchise is exploring several potential locations.

"I have spent more time with the A’s, on their stadium situation, than I have spent with any other franchise over the last two years," Manfred said Monday before the San Francisco Giants hosted the Chicago Cubs for NL Division Series Game 3 .

Manfred said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf told him the city is committed to keeping the A’s in town, and she would also like the Raiders to stay. The two organizations share the rundown Oakland Coliseum, the last venue to house baseball and the NFL.

"The one thing I will say to you is the mayor in Oakland has made clear to me that baseball is her first priority. She would like to keep both teams, but that baseball is her first priority," Manfred said. "And I think that’s a good spot for baseball to be in."

When asked when Schaaf told him that, Manfred said, "She’s told me that repeatedly over the last year."

The Raiders are exploring options to move to Las Vegas.

While Lew Wolff is owner and managing partner of the A’s, Manfred said co-owner John Fisher has become more heavily involved in the ballpark situation and has made multiple trips to New York to meet with Manfred and MLB.

"We will stay engaged with the A’s. We will not have somebody here full-time on the ground. The A’s project is a project that will involve a very substantial commitment from local ownership. And as a result of that, it has to be a locally driven project. They need to find a project that they think works for them, and they need to push that project forward," Manfred said. "We will continue to impress upon them the urgency of getting a Major League-quality facility in Oakland, and we will continue to provide them with support as they move through the process."

Wolff said in an email Monday night that site evaluations are ongoing.

"Studies are still underway, so details will need to wait until the research is concluded," Wolff said.

Manfred also reiterated he remains "optimistic" of reaching a new labour agreement ahead of two notable, upcoming dates on the baseball calendar: the start of free agency and the expiration of the current contract.

"I am optimistic we’ll have a deal this fall. I remain optimistic about that," Manfred said. "I think there are some natural deadlines out there. The beginning of the free agency period, the expiration of the agreement on Dec. 1, and I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to get an agreement in advance of those natural deadlines."

He also got to meet a celebrated former player.

"Well, this trip to San Francisco’s now officially worthwhile," Manfred said. "I just got to spend five minutes with Willie Mays, so the rest of it is all gravy."

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