Posts Tagged ‘Rob Manfred’

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MIAMI (AP) Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred is willing to wait – to a point – for the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics to get new ballparks.

Tampa Bay and Oakland are the only two major league teams currently seeking new stadiums. The Rays have a lease through 2027 at Tropicana Field, which opened in 1990 and has hosted the Rays since the team started play in 1998.

The A’s have been at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum since moving there from Kansas City for the 1968 season. The park opened in 1966.

”We right or wrongly have been extraordinarily committed to our existing markets and patient with those markets as a result,” Manfred told the Baseball Writers’ Association of America on Tuesday. ”I continue to believe that Tampa is a viable major league market. I also believe it may be better than the alternatives that we have out there, and I am hopeful that we get to a resolution. As I’ve said to you before, however, there does come a point in time where we have to accept the reality that the market for whatever set of reasons can’t get to the point that they have a major league quality facility, and I am not going to indefinitely leave a club in a market without a major league quality facility.”

The Rays have been considering sites on both the St. Petersburg and Tampa sides of the bay.

”It really depends on progress, right?” Manfred said. ”At the point in time that it starts to grind to a halt and nothing’s happening – I don’t think we’re there, OK – but at that point in time where everybody’s kind of, you get this look of where are we going next, that’s when you’ve got to start thinking about what your alternatives are.”

The San Francisco Chronicle reported last month the A’s are focusing on three locations. The paper said the team is strongly interested in a 13-acre site near downtown that currently is headquarters of the Peralta Community College District. The Chronicle also said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf favors Howard Terminal, north of Jack London Square, and the team is considering constructing a new ballpark at its current location, the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

John Fisher was approved in November as the controlling owner of the Athletics.

”They’ve said they’re going to by the end of the year identify a site in Oakland that’s their preferred site,” Manfred said. ”I think that given the change in the control situation in Oakland that it was prudent for Mr. Fisher to take a year and make a decision as to what site he thinks is the best. That decision is a uniquely local decision. I really don’t believe it is my job to have a preference for those sites. They know their market better.”

Manfred said at a Town Hall on Monday that MLB will delay any plans for expansion until after the A’s and Rays get new ballparks. He mentioned Montreal, Mexico City and Charlotte, North Carolina, as expansion candidates.

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A return to Montreal, a Mexico debut, or a new team in the Carolinas are all potential future scenarios for Major League Baseball, commissioner Rob Manfred said Monday.

Speaking prior to the Home Run Derby in Miami, Manfred remained adamant the the league’s current priority is finding new stadiums for both the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics, but acknowledged he believes MLB could be sustainable in three other cities.

“I know the mayor of Montreal has been very vocal about bringing baseball back to Montreal,” Manfred said, according to Mark Newman of MLB.com. “Charlotte’s a possibility. And I’d like to think that Mexico City or some other place in Mexico would be a possibility.”

MLB hasn’t expanded since 1998 when the league added Tampa Bay and the Arizona Diamondbacks, and hasn’t relocated since the Expos left Montreal for Washington at the conclusion of the 2004 season.

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The long-rumored sale of the Miami Marlins has stagnated somewhat, but the added intrigue of a third bidder may increase the urgency of the matter as another viable buyer has entered the fray, according to a Friday report from Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that he was “convinced” the Marlins would complete the sale, likely to either the Derek Jeter-led group or the Tagg Romney-led group.

While the third bidder’s identity is unknown, it could nevertheless expedite the purchase for the Jeter or Romney groups – the latter of which includes Atlanta Braves Hall of Famer Tom Glavine.

Jeter’s team had seemed to be the favorite to complete the sale, but the recent loss of Jeb Bush appears to have complicated matters.

The Marlins – currently owned by Jeffrey Loria – are expected to fetch $1.3 billion from their eventual buyer, which Manfred thinks could materialize by the end of the month.

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As Major League Baseball continues to mull the possibility of international expansion, commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday he wants to see regular-season games played in Mexico City.

“We think it’s time to move past exhibition games and play real-live ‘they-count’ games in Mexico,” Manfred told reporters, including MLB.com’s Richard Justice, ahead of Tuesday’s game between the Detroit Tigers and Houston Astros. “That is the kind of experiment that puts you in better position to make a judgement as to whether you have a market that could sustain an 81-game season and a Major Leauge team.”

Identified last year as a front-runner to land an expansion franchise, Mexico City hosted a two-game exhibition series in 2016 – the first MLB action in the Mexican capital in 12 years – and Manfred has said that “making a full-time commitment in Mexico would very important.” International regular-season play was jointly agreed to in the new collective bargaining agreement, too, so the league could conceivably start scheduling games in Mexico City as soon as 2018.

“We’re hopeful that what we see in Mexico will continue to encourage us that that’s a possibility (for expansion),” Manfred said. “We also had a good experience with the (World Baseball Classic) in Mexico. The venue was a good one. It sold well. We had good crowds – another positive in terms of more Major League-level baseball in Mexico.”

Whether Mexico City remains a viable market for an MLB franchise, however, remains to be seen. Executives and economists are torn on the issue, and the ensuing logistics, though Mexican-born MLB players remain enamored of the possibility.

“I think all of Mexico would travel to wherever the team is,” Adrian Gonzalez, the five-time All-Star raised in Tijuana, told ESPN’s Thomas Neumann last year. “It would be a team for the whole country. I think for the most part, people from all over the country would make their way just for the games.”

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With fans understandably excited with the grand opening of Sun Trust Park in Atlanta, the new ball park seems to have impressed commissioner Rob Manfred, who offered up high praise on the Braves’ beautiful new landmark.

“The ballpark itself is beautiful,” Manfred said, according to Richard Justice of MLB.com. “But the scope of the project around it, I really think is the future for baseball.

“I do think it’s a model for other organizations. We ask our fans to do a lot. They come 81 times a year. You’ve got to make sure you have a venue that is attractive, provides entertainment alternatives, food alternatives. The Braves have just done an unbelievable job with those concepts.”

For the past 20 years the Braves home was Turner Field – a ball park that hosted the National League Division Series 11 times, the 1999 World Series, as well as the All-Star game in 2000. The club’s new look also features an impressive plethora of tribute statues that include the great Hank Aaron and legendary Braves manager Bobby Cox.

The Henry Aaron statue may be the best baseball statue I’ve ever seen,” Manfred said. “The detail, everything from the size of him, which I think is reflective of the figurative size of the man, it’s just unbelievable.”

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Rob Manfred isn’t holding his breath about Major League Baseball in Montreal, but he isn’t saying no.

Following a report Wednesday that a group of investors had satisfied the league’s conditions to bring a team back to the city, Manfred revealed Thursday the idea of a resurgence in Montreal has weighed on his mind.

“We’ve thought about Montreal a lot. We’ve had conversations with potential owners. The mayor of Montreal, I think, could be fairly characterized as a rabid baseball fan,” Manfred said on CBS Sports Radio’s “Tiki and Tierney” show. “I’m not closed to the idea that we could return to Montreal – again, in the event that we get to relocation or expansion. I’m certainly open to that idea.

“But obviously the issues, largely facility issues, that led to the Expos leaving would have to be addressed before we’d be comfortable returning.”

The Expos played in Montreal for 35 years before uprooting in 2004 to Washington D.C. where they became the Nationals. As Manfred alludes, however, the franchise’s final seasons were plagued by mismanagement as the club failed to find funding for a new ballpark, leading to the league taking over the franchise outright in 2002 and then playing some home games in Puerto Rico in 2003.

Baseball fans in Montreal will get another taste of big-league action this weekend, as the Toronto Blue Jays and Pittsburgh Pirates will visit the city to begin a two-game series Friday at Olympic Stadium.