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Manfred expects A’s to play in new Las Vegas stadium starting in 2028

 WBN  |    Feb 15th, 2024 6:26pm EST

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred is confident the Oakland Athletics will be playing in Las Vegas starting in 2028.

“The reality of the situation is that whenever you’re leaving a market where you’ve been for decades and you’re going to make a move to a different city where there’s not a stadium, that’s a really difficult undertaking, and it’s not going to be seamless, smooth,” Manfred said Thursday. “There’s going to be bumps along the road.”

The team reached an agreement with Bally’s and Gaming & Leisure Properties to build a stadium on the Tropicana hotel site along the Las Vegas Strip, and the Nevada Legislature approved $380 million in public financing last June for a $1.5 billion stadium that the team wants completed for the 2028 season. MLB owners unanimously approved the move in November.

No ballpark renderings have been released, and there has been speculation a 9-acre site might not be sufficient.

“I am confident that the deal in Las Vegas is solid and that the A’s will build a stadium in Las Vegas and play there in 2028,” Manfred said. “We believe the parcel is adequate for a major league ballpark. I think the delay in the renderings is due to the discussions between Bally’s and the A’s as to how the ballpark and what else is going to happen there is going to be most efficiently designed to make it the best possible experience for fans.”

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, San Francisco or a minor league stadium in Las Vegas. The A’s met with the City of Oakland on Thursday about extending the club’s lease beyond this season.

“There’s conflicting considerations that kind of point you at one direction or point you to another direction. So it’s not an easy choice as to where it’ll be, but I do think they have been thorough in terms of exploring their alternatives,” Manfred said. “The schedule gets finalized July-ish. We need to know before that exactly where they’re going to be, because it will impact travel issues, whatever, if they’re not in Oakland.”

PHANTOM INJURED LIST

Manfred last week suspended former New York Mets general manager Billy Eppler through the 2024 World Series for directing staff to fabricate injuries to open roster spots during during the 2022 and 2023 seasons.

“I’ve read a couple of comments from players that we’re following up on about that issue,” Manfred said. “If in fact it is more widespread, it concerns me. It’s is a form of cheating, and I think that it’s incumbent on us to try to figure out if it’s more widespread. But the fact … that you allege that somebody else was doing it is not a defense if we catch you. Everybody has their own personal responsibility on these issues. However it happens, you get caught, you’re going to get disciplined.”

Earlier in the day, New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman said: “It’s been something that I’ve heard discussed and, you know, people have been accused of over the course of time, but I couldn’t tell you what’s fact and what’s fiction.”

FREE-AGENT SIGNING DEADLINE?

Pitchers Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery, designated J.D. Martinez and outfielder Cody Bellinger are among the dozens of free agents still without contracts.

“We would prefer to have a free-agent signing period, ideally probably in December with a deadline that drove people to make their deals, get things settled. We actually made proposals to that effect, to the MLBPA. They were not warmly received,” Manfred said, referring to a mid-agreement proposal in 2019.

“One of the tactics that’s available to player representatives is to stretch out the negotiation in the belief that they’re going to get a better deal,” Manfred said. “That’s part of the system right now. There’s not a lot we can do about it. But certainly from an aspirational perspective, we’d rather have two weeks of flurried activity in December, preferably around the winter meetings.”

DOMINICAN AGE FRAUD

MLB is monitoring reports of age fraud among prospects from the Dominican Republic. A player residing outside the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico can sign starting Jan. 15 in the year he turns 16 before Sept. 1, as long as he hasn’t been enrolled in a high school in the U.S., Canada or Puerto Rico in the previous calendar year.

Manfred intends to meet with Dominican President Luis Abinader around exhibition games between Boston and Tampa Bay at Santo Domingo on March 9 and 10.

“We pay a lot of attention to the developments in Dominican. It’s such an important source of talent for us,” Manfred said. “We are aware of the recent uptick. We are having ongoing conversations about additional steps to manage what is a very, very difficult problem. It goes to how age and IDs is managed by the government in the Dominican.”

MORE REALITY

Netflix is producing a docuseries about this year’s Boston Red Sox.

“I think it’s a really important first venture for us and I think you’re going see a lot more of it.” Manfred said.

ALL-STAR SITES

Manfred plans to be involved in selecting All-Star Game sites for 2027 and ’28. He mentioned the Chicago Cubs (last in 1990) and Toronto (1991) as teams that have not hosted for many years.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb