Zac Goodwin/PA via AP
Friday, June 23, 2023 | 11:34 a.m.
LONDON — Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said one big turnout by Oakland Athletics fans doesn’t change “a decade worth of inaction” as he defended earlier comments about the “ reverse boycott ” held in protest of the team’s proposed move to Las Vegas.
Manfred claimed he was taken out of context when he sarcastically praised the 27,759 A’s fans for amounting to “almost an average Major League Baseball crowd” at a 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on June 13 at the Coliseum.
Speaking Friday at a new conference ahead of a weekend series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs, Manfred said the A’s had not yet submitted a relocation application and there is not a deadline for when he wants clubs to vote.
“My comment about Oakland was that I feel sorry for the fans, that it was my initial and — preference that we find a solution in Oakland,” Manfred said at London Stadium when asked if he had regrets about his remarks.
“The comment that I made about the fans on a particular night was taken out of context of those two larger remarks: I feel sorry for the fans. We hate to move. We did everything we could possibly to do keep the club in Oakland. Unfortunately, one night doesn’t change a decade worth of inaction,” he added.
Following an owners meeting on June 15, Manfred had said: “I mean, it was great. It’s great to see what is this year almost an average Major League Baseball crowd in the facility for one night. That’s a great thing.”
MLB is set to begin a months-long approval process for the team’s proposed move to Las Vegas. Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo last week signed legislation granting $380 million in public financing for a ballpark on the Las Vegas Strip.
A relocation committee will study the relocation proposal and make recommendations to Manfred and the eight-man executive council. The executive council formulates a recommendation to all clubs, which must approve the move by at least three-quarters vote.
Milwaukee owner Mark Attanasio will chair the relocation committee. Manfred said he has not yer appointed any additional members.
“I don’t have a firm timeline,” Manfred said. “Depends on when the application comes in and how long the committee feels it needs to examine the application.”
Oakland is averaging under 10,000 fans per home game, lowest among the 30 teams. The A’s have the worst record in the major leagues at 19-58.
The proposed $1.5 billion, 30,000-seat ballpark with a retractable roof would be close to Allegiant Stadium, where the NFL’s Oakland Raiders moved to in 2020, and T-Mobile Arena, where the NHL’s expansion Golden Knights started play in 2017.