Athletics appear close to making Sacramento interim home

The Athletics appear close to severing ties with Oakland after 56 years and making a minor league ballpark in West Sacramento their interim home before the expected move to Las Vegas for the 2028 season.

The team met with Sacramento officials Wednesday. According to a report by Sacramento radio personality Dave Weiglein of Sactown Sports, the team will announce its decision to relocate either Thursday or Friday. If the move comes to fruition, the A's will share Sutter Health Park with the  San Francisco Giants' Triple-A team, the RiverCats, for up to three seasons beginning next season. There was no indication the A's informed Oakland of their plans.

The A's are facing a tight timeline to decide where they will play after their lease at the Oakland Coliseum ends following this season. Major League Baseball schedules are typically finalized in May and distributed to teams by July. Commissioner Rob Manfred, while refusing to impose a strict deadline on A's owner John Fisher, has repeatedly said that he hopes the team resolves the issue quickly.

Oakland officials and the A's conducted three formal meetings, the most recent one Tuesday, to discuss extending the lease at the Coliseum, where the A's won four World Series titles. Given the city's distrust of A's management, triggered by the team's decision to enter into an agreement to move to Las Vegas in April 2023 despite being close to finalizing a deal to build a $12 billion waterfront mini-city at Howard Terminal, the negotiations were not always smooth. While the office of Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao issued a statement Tuesday night indicating that the city expected further negotiations, the A's suggested that the two sides remained far apart.

Oakland initially offered a five-year lease with a team opt-out after three, with $97 million due the city regardless of the length of the term. Other demands included the team agreeing to sell its half of the Coliseum site to a local developer, which would allow the city to go forward with a redevelopment project that includes three sports venues, housing and retail. The city also sought assurances from MLB that Oakland would be given a one-year exclusivity agreement to present a viable owner for a future expansion team.

Sources told ESPN the city's bargaining position was based on the strength of the media market, which has earned the A's a reported $67 million per year from its local television contract with NBC Sports California. A move to Sacramento would require a renegotiation of that contract, although the  Kings and A's both air on NBC Sports California. Oakland also emphasized the convenience of remaining in the Coliseum; a move to Sacramento would require the team's employees -- if they are able -- to move 90 miles to the east for three years before moving to Las Vegas.

Weiglein, a popular morning radio host known locally as "Carmichael Dave," rose to prominence as the leading voice for Sacramento when the Kings appeared ready to leave for Seattle in 2013.

The Sacramento RiverCats are owned by Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, a friend of Fisher's whose goal is to bring big league baseball to California's capital city. He sees the A's -- even on a temporary basis -- as a three-year audition for the city to get on Manfred's short list for MLB expansion. The other consideration is for Sacramento to position itself as a viable option if the Athletics' deal in Las Vegas falls through.

MLB owners unanimously approved the A's relocation to Las Vegas after Fisher entered into an agreement to build a ballpark in the parking lot of the Tropicana Casino and Resort on the Las Vegas Strip. The team received $380 million in public funding from the Nevada State Legislature to build an estimated $1.5 billion stadium that -- if all goes according to plan -- will open for the 2028 season.

The A's are 1-5 to start the season and have drawn an average of 6,438 fans through six home games. Included in those games was a three-game sweep by the  Boston Red Sox, a team that traditionally draws well on the road. Sutter Health Park in West Sacramento has just 10,624 permanent seats with lawn seating that boosts capacity to roughly 14,000.

Any move to a minor league ballpark will have to gain the approval of the Major League Baseball Players Association, which will assess factors such as player safety, weather and the suitability of dugouts and clubhouses.