Whispers of another MLB relocation are getting louder and realer

Rob Manfred, MLB. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Rob Manfred, MLB. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

The Oakland Athletics may not be the only MLB team positioned for a relocation.

The Oakland Athletics’ move to Las Vegas appears all but official. A smaller market losing its major league team is certainly a loss for the sport and its authentic fans, but it also might not be the last team to see a transition to a new locality this decade.

According to a new report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a relocation is being floated for the Milwaukee Brewers, who are seeking funds to improve its venue, American Family Field.

Molly Beck reports that the Brewers could start looking for a home in the fall if there is no agreement on public funds to improve American Family Field. Beck floats Charlotte and Nashville as two possible suitors.

Why does Brewers stadium need upgrading?

According to CBS58, the stadium needs upgrades to its roof, outfield panels, concourse, bathrooms, and club levels. The field was built in 2001, built with $290 million of public funds. The taxes paying for ther stadium just ended in 2020.

The roof has already proven complex, with a $13 million repair in 2006 (paid for via a settlement). Scoreboard upgrades and public address system upgrades were made in 2010, but meaningful renovations have been few and far between to the stadium’s facilities, aside from the playing grass which was replaced at one point.

American Family Field, by and large, feels like a passable stadium to most visitors. Most fans looking for upgrades would actually prefer the areas in the immediate vicinity of the stadium to be developed rather than the stadium itself. The reasoning for why renovations are such a sticking point is that they’re actually required with the lease.

Does Rob Manfred want the Brewers to leave Milwaukee?

Outwardly, Major Leauge Baseball and Brewers ownership has been in full support of the Brewers staying in Wisconsin. Quoted in Friday’s article, Rich Schlesinger, president of business operations for the Brewers said the organization wants to be in the area for the next generation, “and beyond.”

The article also notes that Manfred is pressuring lawmakers to act quickly to get a deal done.

Why can’t the Brewers just pay for renovations itself?

The Brewers do not own the stadium, they lease it from the Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District, a state entity. The lease says that renovations must occur to keep the stadium on par with a majority of MLB facilities.

The Journal Sentinel says:

"“Team executives are giving thought to leaving because without a funding deal the stadium district may not have enough money to cover immediate recommended improvements to American Family Field. And because it could take years to facilitate a move if the Brewers reach that point.”"

One source told the Journal Sentinel that the SWPBPD is, “broke,” hence the political battle to secure funding.

Recently, the Bucks opened Fiserv Forum. It was paid for with $250 million from taxpayers, $174 million from the Bucks, and $100 million from a former Senator, Herb Kohl. American Family Field cost $400 million in taxpayer funds, about $650 million in 2022 dollars.

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