The Oakland A’s need a ballpark for the next three years while their proposed Las Vegas stadium is getting built, but the City of Oakland hopes to charge them nearly $100 million if they want to play those three years at the Oakland Coliseum.

It was an embarrassing start to the Oakland A’s 2024 season, and not just because they lost their first three games to the Cleveland Guardians. As Oaklandside reports, thousands of fans showed up in the parking lot on Opening Day to protest the A’s proposed move to Las Vegas, refusing to pay admission and instead just watching the game on a makeshift projection screen. Meanwhile, attendance for those three games averaged fewer than 7,600 people, in a stadium with a capacity of 63,000.

Do the A’s have the appetite for three more years of empty stadiums and hostile fans? That may actually be their best course of action, as their proposed Las Vegas stadium won’t be done until 2028 at the earliest, and their lease at the Oakland Coliseum runs out after this season. So the two sides are in negotiations for a Coliseum lease extension, and ESPN got their hands on the City of Oakland's offer for a five-year lease extension that would cost the A’s $97 million.  

It’s perhaps a less-than-subtle insult toward the A’s and their possibly unrealistic Las Vegas stadium plan that it’s a five-year lease offer, even though the A’s only need a stadium for three years. (The team would get a three-year opt-out clause if they take this offer). It seems the City of Oakland is taunting the A’s with the distinct possibility that the Las Vegas stadium gets delayed, or doesn’t even get built at all.

And that $97 million price tag is far, far heftier than what ESPN reports is a current $1.5 million annually in rent. The A’s reportedly offered “a two-year deal and payments of $7 million and $10 million,” per ESPN. But the City of Oakland did drop their demands that the A’s name and colors remain in Oakland for a future expansion team, and their demand that Major League Baseball guarantees them an expansion team.

Oakland is also demanding that the A’s sell their half-ownership in the Coliseum, and according to KTVU, they’re requiring the A’s to pay for the costs of switching the field from baseball game to soccer game uses.

"I remain committed to doing everything in my power to keep the A's in Oakland," Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao told ESPN in a statement. "The terms we have proposed for a lease extension at the Coliseum are clear, reasonable and achievable. Having Major League Baseball in Oakland is what is best for the owners, the league, the players and most importantly, the fans."

The reason the City of Oakland may have the A’s by the short and curlies here is the A’s have a lucrative, $67 million a year contract with NBC Sports Bay Area (actually their parent company NBC Sports California). But that big chunk of change will get substantially reduced if the team plays their home games outside the Bay Area. According to the Chronicle, the A’s are considering short-terms stints in Sacramento or Salt Lake City. Both of those options would mean a serious reduction in the team’s NBC Sports Bay Area money, plus the ignominy of playing Major League Baseball in very small minor league ballparks.

Last month, the A’s released renderings of their proposed Las Vegas ballpark, at the site of what is currently the Tropicana Resort & Casino. That resort would be demolished to make room for the ballpark, but a Nevada teachers’ union is trying to thwart that plan with a ballot measure and lawsuit.

Related: A’s Negotiating to Stay In Oakland Three More Years, Because They Have Nowhere Else to Play [SFist]

Image: OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - MAY 26: The Oakland Athletics play the Texas Rangers at a nearly empty RingCentral Coliseum on May 26, 2022 in Oakland, California. Attendance at Oakland Athletics baseball games have dwindled to historic lows as the team has traded away fan favorite players and continues to explore moving the team to Las Vegas if they can't reach a deal to build a new stadium near the Port of Oakland. The Athletics have the lowest attendance of all 30 Major League Baseball (MLB) as well as the league's lowest single game attendance for a May 2nd game that only drew 2,488 fans. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)