A's ballpark plans key with loss of revenue sharing in CBA

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Saturday, December 3, 2016

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Oakland Athletics will be phased out of revenue sharing in the coming years as part of baseball's new labor deal, and that puts even more urgency on the small-budget franchise's plan to find the right spot soon to build a new, privately funded ballpark.

The A's revenue-sharing funds will be cut to 75 percent next year, 50 percent in 2018, 25 percent in 2019 and then phased out as part of the five-year agreement reached Wednesday and formally announced Friday.

"We are very excited that there is an agreement on a new CBA. We are committed right now to investing every dollar of revenue that we generate back into the on-field product and the fan experience," new A's team president Dave Kaval said. "We will also work hard to increase our revenue in the near term so that we can allocate more resources to both of these areas. The new CBA again highlights the importance of getting a new ballpark built in Oakland. A new ballpark will allow for the most competitive level of play on the field. We are laser-focused on making that happen as quickly as we can."

Kaval, named to his new A's leadership position last month while also currently serving as president of Major League Soccer's San Jose Earthquakes, brings a business savvy and the experience from just pulling off the building of the Quakes' second-year, state-of-the art Avaya Stadium, which boasts the largest outdoor bar in North America. He envisions an intimate baseball venue surrounded by the bustle of businesses, restaurants and housing.

Commissioner Rob Manfred said during the Cubs-Giants series in October he would like to see the club stay put and find a viable solution in Oakland, and Mayor Libby Schaaf has pledged her commitment.

The A's have a current payroll of $87 million, pending award bonuses and adjustments, and that is above only Tampa Bay and Milwaukee's. They added outfielder Matt Joyce with an $11 million, two-year contract Wednesday and avoided a potential arbitration case when first baseman Yonder Alonso agreed Friday to a $4 million, one-year contract.

Pushing forward for a new ballpark is a top priority, along with improving the fan experience at the Coliseum in the meantime to keep a frustrated fan base happy until ground breaks to show this really will happen -- prompting him to say last month, "I know it's maybe lipstick on a pig."

The run-down Coliseum, shared with the Raiders and the last venue with both Major League Baseball and football, had multiple sewage problems in 2013 that caused damage during games among other issues.

Kaval is committed to making quick progress but also doing this right. That means strong communication with city and civic leaders as well as the community and fan base. On Tuesday afternoon, Kaval will host his first office hours at the Coliseum open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis -- then each Tuesday after that by appointment. He has held a similar practice as with the Earthquakes.

"I do hope our new president has a better understanding of what the fans want in order to get a new stadium done," catcher Stephen Vogt said in a text message Friday. "I think it's great that he is having office hours that fans can come in and give him their opinion on what they would like to see. The new stadium is for these fans. These fans deserve a new stadium. They waited long and they still supported us through thick and thin the last few years."