Manfred: A’s should remain in Oakland

Unlike his predecessor, Bud Selig, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred has no problem explaining exactly where he stands on the Athletics’ protracted pursuit of a new stadium. The commish is all in on Oakland.

“My fundamental goal is to help the A’s get a new facility, which they desperately need, in Oakland,” Manfred said Thursday, holding court at AT&T Park.

Manfred pointed to the example of the Giants when asked to explain why the A’s situation has become such a drawn-out mess.

“People forget because you have a great ballpark here where you sell out 365 times in a row that it was a tortured road to this ballpark,” Manfred said. “And similarly in Oakland, it’s been a long process, it’s been a difficult process, but I do believe there is genuine progress being made towards getting something done in Oakland.”

The league’s preference is to leave decisions about stadium sites to team ownership, and Manfred added that the A’s have made it clear that the Coliseum site is their top choice. Even with the A’s and Raiders seemingly locked in a battle for control of that site, Manfred does not intend for MLB to take a backseat to the
NFL.

“I don’t see the process as one whereby football gets to pick and baseball should be Plan B,” Manfred said. “I think there are lots of really good economic reasons why politicians in Oakland should make baseball their priority, including the 81 home games that we bring to a new facility.”

During his stop in San Francisco, Manfred also weighed in on the brewing controversy surrounding the All-Star Game fan ballot. Currently, the American League lineup is slated to include seven members of the Kansas City Royals.

“Over time, I have learned that fans have a way of self-correcting,” Manfred said. “We still have time left. Lots of more ballots are going to be cast, and I do believe that the fans ultimately will make good decisions in terms of who’s on the team.”

While ensuring that fan balloting won’t be going anywhere, Manfred said the league is ready to revamp the system if needed.

“If in fact we get a result that people within the game — the owners, the players — feel is intolerable, we’ll be prepared to make changes,” Manfred said. “There will be fan balloting, no matter what. But the rules can change in a way that might prevent whatever problem people see in the results that we may or may not get this year.”

Manfred also confirmed that the league is planning to build a second replay command center at the MLB Advanced Media office in San Francisco. The new branch would not only serve as a backup option in case problems arose at the New York command center, but could also operate as the replay hub for West Coast
games.

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