Major League Baseball’s Athletics announced plans recently to leave Oakland, their home since 1968, and move to Las Vegas beginning in 2024.
With the venerated Oakland Coliseum literally falling apart, and no new stadium deal being struck, owner John Fisher accepted a proposal for a new start in Sin City – following in the footsteps of the NFL’s Raiders, who moved from Oakland to Vegas in 2020.
While it’s a huge roll of the dice to leave the Bay Area for an emerging major league market, the gamble looked like it paid off. The League has been involved in the process and appears to be fully in support of it. So, the A’s went public: They would be making a move to Las Vegas. Their current lease with the Coliseum doesn’t expire until 2025, but the club’s management is reportedly exploring the option of moving as soon as the conclusion of this season.
Their strategy was a simple one: The team would initially play at Triple-A Las Vegas Ballpark (home of the Athletics’ farm team the Aviators), until their fabulous, new 35,000-seat retractable roof stadium was ready.
Oakland Mayor Gives Up
“I am deeply disappointed that the A’s have chosen not to negotiate with the City of Oakland as a true partner, in a way that respects the long relationship between the fans, the City, and the team,” Mayor Sheng Thao said in a statement given to ESPN. “Yet, it is clear to me that the A’s have no intention of staying in Oakland and have simply been using this process to try to extract a better deal out of Las Vegas. I am not interested in continuing to play that game — the fans and our residents deserve better.”
But for the A’s, it was a long time coming. As a team dying for a diamond-studded destination, Vegas represents an oasis in the desert for the Athletics. It’s an opportunity to double down and finally hit the jackpot.
But now it turns out the A’s could come up a just little bit short at the table.
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The Nevada Independent recently published a story stating that the A’s might have to change some of their plans. The terms of the financing could change, based on what happens next, politically.
“The team is looking to state lawmakers for a $500 million package involving tax credits and the creation of a special taxation district to help fund stadium construction,” the report stated. “However, the proposed legislation has yet to be filed with state lawmakers in Carson City. Assembly Speaker Steve Yeager (D-Las Vegas) told The Nevada Independent last week the team was running out of time to get legislative approval for the tax package.”
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Make no mistake, Fisher is going to make the move to Las Vegas, regardless. Having said that, if he is forced to make up most or all of the funding not provided by the State of Nevada, the deal won’t nearly be as sweet. So, essentially, the franchise wouldn’t be starting off with nearly as much house money.
No Pat Hand for the A’s
The A’s are reportedly still focused on acquiring the former Wild West Casino site Red Rock Resorts, bordered by Tropicana Avenue and Dean Martin Drive, for an undisclosed price for the park as well as a surrounding entertainment district.
The Rio Hotel & Casino, offered the team 22 acres of the resort’s 90-acre site, for just $1. The A’s initially rejected that offer, which could have greatly reduced some of the costs associated with future land acquisition, because the team was concerned about traffic access, per The Nevada Independent.
Now, they could be responsible for a lot bigger chunk of the cost. Which is poetic justice in the eyes of many Oakland sports fans. After over 20 years of back-and-forth between the franchise and the city over a proposed new park, there’s been plenty of animosity and bad blood built up. The finality of it all brought that all to the forefront.
Following the team announcing their intentions to depart, Oakland City Council President Nikki Fortunato Bass said “the A’s are not committed to Oakland,” and that “it’s time to move on.”
For the Athletics, Las Vegas will be the fourth home city in their long and storied history, following tenures in Philadelphia, and Kansas City. They moved to Oakland in 1968. As a franchise, they’ve won nine World Series Championships: five in Philly, and four in Oaktown — with the last one produced by Tony LaRussa and the Bash Brothers in 1989.