MLB chief confident over new ballparks for A’s, Rays

Major League Baseball (MLB) commissioner Rob Manfred has spoken out over the mooted new ballparks for Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays, saying he is confident both franchises are moving ahead with their plans.

The A’s had published plans to build a new stadium in downtown Oakland, but the proposed project fell through in December and the team has been seeking alternatives ever since.

In recent weeks, it has emerged that the A’s are now considering sites adjacent to its current home at the Oakland Coliseum and on the waterfront at the Howard Terminal.

Manfred has said that both locations are “viable” and the MLB will support the A’s with making a decision on the project.

“There is no human endeavour where you get it right every single time,” Manfred said, according to the Associated Press news agency. “I think Howard Terminal is viable. I think the Coliseum site is viable.

“We will be continuing to encourage the A’s to get to a decision point sooner rather than later on where they want to be so that you can get to the next step, which is determining whether you have economic viability in terms of financing and the like.”

Meanwhile, the Rays last week revealed plans to construct a domed ballpark in the Ybor City area of Tampa at an estimated cost of $892m (€767.2m/£681.7m).

Should the project go ahead, the 30,842-capacity venue would be the smallest in North America’s major leagues, but Manfred again said he approves of the plans.

“I thought the design was innovative and well-suited to the Tampa Bay market,” Manfred said. “I think it was economically efficient.”

Manfred added that he is now keen for both teams to nail down financing plans for the ballpark projects.

“Stadiums are municipal assets,” he said. “They are indicative of a … regions’ status kind of as a major league city, and participation either in terms of businesses or governmental entities in the financing of the stadium I continue to believe is completely appropriate.”

“If you are going to have private financing, the other piece that has to be present is support for the club in terms of attendance, sponsorship and all those great things that put the owner in a position to repay the debt that they inevitably would have to incur to get the stadium constructed.”

Image: Tampa Bay Rays