LONDON -- Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred says one big turnout by Oakland Athletics fans doesn't change "a decade worth of inaction" as he defended earlier comments about the "reverse boycott" held in protest of the team's proposed move to Las Vegas.
Manfred said he was taken out of context when he sarcastically praised the 27,759 fans for amounting to "almost an average Major League Baseball crowd" for a 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on June 13 at the Coliseum.
Speaking Friday at a news conference ahead of a weekend series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs in London, Manfred said the A's had not submitted a relocation application and there is no deadline for when he wants clubs to vote.
"My comment about Oakland was that I feel sorry for the fans, that it was my initial and -- preference that we find a solution in Oakland," Manfred said when asked if he had regrets about his remarks. "The comment that I made about the fans on a particular night was taken out of context of those two larger remarks: I feel sorry for the fans. We hate to move. We did everything we could possibly do to keep the club in Oakland. Unfortunately, one night doesn't change a decade worth of inaction."
Following an owners meeting June 15, Manfred had said of the A's turnout: "I mean, it was great. It's great to see what is this year almost an average Major League Baseball crowd in the facility for one night. That's a great thing."
MLB is set to begin a monthslong approval process for the Athletics' proposed move to Las Vegas. Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo last week signed legislation granting $380 million in public financing for a ballpark on the Las Vegas Strip.
A relocation committee will study the relocation proposal and make recommendations to Manfred and the eight-man executive council. The council formulates a recommendation to all clubs, which must approve the move by at least a three-quarters vote.
Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio will chair the relocation committee. Manfred said he has not appointed any additional members.
"I don't have a firm timeline," Manfred said. "Depends on when the application comes in and how long the committee feels it needs to examine the application."
Oakland is averaging under 10,000 fans per home game, lowest among the 30 teams. The A's have the worst record in the major leagues at 19-58.
The proposed $1.5 billion, 30,000-seat ballpark with a retractable roof would be close to Allegiant Stadium, where the NFL's Raiders moved in 2020, and T-Mobile Arena, where the NHL's Golden Knights started as an expansion team in 2017.