The Oakland Market Is A Major Manfred Problem


Could Oakland get an expansion team if John Fisher takes his Athletics business to Las Vegas?

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has five years to carry out whatever MLB owners want, which is to continue to make sure that the most revenue available goes into the pockets of the 30 owners. Manfred’s number one problem to solve is the fate of Oakland Athletics owner John Fisher’s business. Will Fisher ever get to Las Vegas? Will Fisher be able to get a lease extension in Oakland while waiting for a Las Vegas ballpark to be built? Will Fisher put his business in Sacramento? Will NBC Sports California continue paying $70 million a year to Fisher if Fisher decides to put his business in the California capital for three years? Will Manfred and his owners approve a deal between Fisher and Oakland that will include an agreement to put a team back in Oakland after Fisher goes to Las Vegas? Will MLB allow Oakland to keep the Athletics’ name and colors and records and force Fisher to rebrand his business in Las Vegas?

As far as expansion. Manfred has said his business wants to add two franchises. There are precedents where sports owners have put an expansion team into a market after an owner pulled out. In 1967 and in 1968, Missouri Senator Stuart Symington put the screws to Major League Baseball after Charles Finley, the owner of the Athletics, moved from Kansas City to Oakland following the 1967 season. Symington told Major League Baseball, no team in Kansas City, well you don’t need an antitrust exemption in the way you run your business. MLB took Symington seriously and the American League expanded to Kansas City and Seattle. Seattle lost its team after 1969, but the American League expanded into Seattle in 1976 because of the possibility of an antitrust lawsuit. The saga of the Athletics franchise continues.

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Rob Manfred