The Oakland Athletics will start exploring the possibility of relocating with the approval of Major League Baseball, a move that could put pressure on local government officials to OK a new stadium project that has spent years in limbo.

The A's have prioritized building a waterfront stadium in downtown Oakland at the Howard Terminal site. They've played in Oakland since 1968.

After years of failed stadium plans -- and weeks after the organization requested that the city council vote on the $12 billion mixed-use development before its late-July summer recess -- the long-anticipated specter of the A's looking into relocation became a reality on Tuesday.

"The future success of the A's depends on a new ballpark," owner John Fisher said in a statement. "Oakland is a great baseball town, and we will continue to pursue our waterfront ballpark project. We will also follow MLB's direction to explore other markets."