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Rob Manfred threatens Oakland that Athletics might move to Las Vegas

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In a meeting last week, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred threatened that the Oakland A’s would move to Las Vegas if the City of Oakland did not drop a lawsuit against Alameda County regarding a dispute over redevelopment of the Oakland Coliseum property. The threat was first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday. Today Oakland’s mayor confirmed the story.

The A’s, as you know, have been endeavoring to get a new ballpark for years and years. The latest plan involves them building a park on the Oakland waterfront. Part of their effort involves acquiring all or at least part of the land on which the city/county owned Oakland Coliseum currently sits and develop the land commercially. Alameda County, part owner of the land, was on board with this and moved to sell its ownership stake in the Coliseum to the A’s. The City of Oakland is opposed to selling to the A’s and has sued to stop the transaction. Manfred’s threat was, basically, drop this suit, Oakland, or the A’s will pursue other options.

This story brings together multiple recent developments, all of which have a big impact on Major League Baseball and professional sports at larges:

It also, above all else, plays out against the backdrop of Major League Baseball increasingly looking to real estate development as an important ancillary revenue source — and in some cases a primary revenue source — for its clubs. It’s not enough for them to be given public assistance to build new ballparks. They also want gifts or, at the very least, sweetheart deals on real estate too, so baseball team owners can also become developers of mixed-use business centers featuring bars, restaurants, condos and, er, um, elevator testing facilities.

Will Oakland call Rob Manfred’s bluff. If, indeed, it is a bluff? Guess we’ll find out.

Red Sox employees “livid” over team pay cut plan

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Even Drellich of The Athletic reports that the Boston Red Sox are cutting the pay of team employees. Those cuts, which began to be communicated last night, apply to all employees making $50,000 or more. They are tiered cuts, with people making $50-99,000 seeing salary cut by 20%, those making $100k-$499,000 seeing $25% cuts and those making $500,000 or more getting 30% cuts.

Drellich reported that a Red Sox employee told him that “people are livid” over the fact that those making $100K are being treated the same way as those making $500K. And, yes, that does seem to be a pretty wide spread for similar pay cuts. One would think that a team with as many analytically-oriented people on staff could perhaps break things down a bit more granularly.

Notable in all of this that the same folks who own the Red Sox — Fenway Sports Group — own Liverpool FC of the English Premier League, and that just last month Liverpool’s pay cut/employee furlough policies proved so unpopular that they led to a backlash and a subsequent reversal by the club. That came after intense criticism from Liverpool fan groups and local politicians. Sox owner John Henry must be confident that no such backlash will happen in Boston.

As we noted yesterday, The Kansas City Royals, who are not as financially successful as the Boston Red Sox, have not furloughed employees or cut pay as a result of baseball’s shutdown in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps someone in Boston could call the Royals and ask them how they managed that.