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The Oakland A’s stadium issue is now on course to a solution

And it has to do with revenue sharing.

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A rendering of the possible A’s stadium in Oakland

The 2016 MLB/MLBPA collective-bargaining agreement had a sort of poison pill for the Oakland Athletics:

As part of the labor agreement, the details of which were officially revealed on Friday, the A’s will be phased out of the league’s revenue-sharing plan over the next four years. Their share of these annual dollars, worth more than $30 million last year, will be cut to 75 percent in 2017, 50 percent in ‘18 and 25 percent in ‘19, before it’s gone completely in ‘20.

The A’s, despite playing in a large market, have been included in the program only because of their aging stadium, and MLB’s decision to incrementally eliminate them from receiving these funds stresses the urgency for a new ballpark and, perhaps, forces the team’s hand.

Five years’ worth of losing revenue sharing funds hurt the A’s for a year or so, but they won 97 games in both 2018 and 2019, losing the wild card game each time. After a division title in the pandemic-abbreviated 2020 season, they missed out on the 2021 postseason with an 86-76 mark.

The A’s payroll stayed relatively consistent in the 2017-21 period, dropping to $87 million in 2018 but rising to $111 million in 2019 before dropping off significantly to $74 million in 2021. A’s management managed to keep the team in contention much of the time anyway.

This matters because A’s revenue sharing was restored in the new CBA:

The new labor agreement reinstates the A’s as a revenue-sharing recipient, phasing them back into the plan. But the slight improvement in their economic circumstances in 2022 is not expected to alter the team’s position as sellers — perhaps massive sellers — in the coming weeks.

The A’s were phased out of revenue sharing in the last labor agreement, receiving no money in 2020 (when the program was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic) and 2021. Starting this season, they will be phased back in at 25 percent per year over a four-year period. But there is a catch.

According to the agreement, the A’s need to enter into a binding deal for a new ballpark in Oakland or another city by Jan. 15, 2024, or they again will be eliminated as a revenue-sharing recipient. If they get a commitment for a new park, they will remain a recipient until they move into that facility.

“Massive sellers” could have begun Monday, when the A’s shipped first baseman Matt Olson to Atlanta for four prospects.

But the A’s will have some extra money to spend this year and next through revenue sharing — but by early 2024 they must have a deal for a new ballpark if they want to keep that revenue sharing money coming.

Note that per the link above, the new park doesn’t have to necessarily be in Oakland, though an environmental study of the possible Howard Terminal ballpark location in Oakland was approved by their City Council last month.

“We’ve never been this far in terms of making our vision for the waterfront ballpark for the A’s a reality,” A’s president Dave Kaval said following the council vote. “There is still a lot of work to be done. This is an important accomplishment and an important milestone to reach.”

There’s more in this BCB article from last December.

Whether this park in Oakland comes to reality or whether they relocate to Las Vegas or elsewhere, they’ve got to get it done by January 2024, less than two years from now, or they lose all revenue sharing funds. This is binding by the terms of the new CBA.

It would appear that we will soon, at long last, know where the permanent home of the Oakland Athletics will be.