The Athletics have seen plenty of baseball history come through Oakland, California.
Back-to-back-to-back World Series titles in the early 1970s, and another in 1989. A record-setting 20-game winning streak in 2002. Hall of Famers like Rickey Henderson, Reggie Jackson, Rich Gossage, Rollie Fingers and Catfish Hunter.
Since 1968, the Athletics have called Oakland home. That will likely soon be changing. The Athletics are widely expected to move to Las Vegas, marking the third and final professional sports team in Oakland to leave the area after the Raiders left for Las Vegas and the Golden State Warriors departed for a new arena in San Francisco.
Though there are still some potential hurdles left to clear, it appears the Athletics will be headed to the desert at some point. The team had been bound by the collective bargaining agreement to get a new stadium deal either in Oakland or a new city by 2024. And in April, the team purchased 49 acres of land near the Las Vegas Strip.
Since then, it has felt much like an inevitability that the team would be headed for Nevada, particularly when team president Dave Kaval said in late April that the organization would be “putting all our focus in Las Vegas and the efforts there.”
When are the A’s set to pack up their bags and head to Sin City? Here’s what you need to know.
When will the Athletics move to Las Vegas?
If everything goes according to plan, the Las Vegas Athletics — or the Las Vegas [insert new name here] — will be playing baseball in a brand-new Sin City stadium in 2028. Until then, there could be a revolving host site for the Athletics.
The team’s Oakland Coliseum lease expires following the 2024 season, which then throws into question the team’s home until that new Vegas stadium is opened. According to USA Today, the team will reportedly alternate between playing games in the organization’s Triple-A stadium in Las Vegas and Oracle Park, the home of the Giants, and could still play in Oakland.
However, if the A’s want to continue playing in Oakland past 2024, the city has made it clear that it will be on the city’s terms.
“We’re focused on keeping the A’s in Oakland,” Francis Zamora, a spokesperson for Oakland mayor Sheng Thao, told The Athletic recently. “If relocation is approved by MLB, (and if) the A’s ownership wants to continue playing at the Oakland Coliseum until they move, it would have to be on the city’s terms. We have been on the record [with requirements of] Oakland retaining the A’s brand and franchise history, guarantee of an expansion team and acquisition of the ownership’s share of the coliseum complex.”
There is currently a minor-league stadium in Las Vegas, where the Las Vegas Aviators, the Triple-A team for the A’s, currently plays. The stadium, Las Vegas Ballpark, has a seating capacity of 8,196. That would, of course, be a far cry from what any MLB stadium can hold. Even in 2023, when Oakland ranked last in the majors in average attendance per game, an average of 10,275 fans showed up per home game.
There is a precedent for MLB teams playing in MiLB stadiums, however. The Blue Jays spent part of the 2021 season playing at Sahlen Field in Buffalo due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Here’s how the Athletics got to this point, including the latest updates on their potential move:
Update, timeline on Athletics relocation to Las Vegas
Nov. 16, 2023
This was the next major step for the Athletics. On Thursday, the 30 MLB owners voted on and approved the move from Oakland to Las Vegas.
All that was required for the move to be approved is a 75 percent approval, which would mean it would have taken eight owners to block the vote. Instead, all 30 owners voted in favor of allowing the move to take place.
MLB owners vote to approve John Fisher’s relocation to Las Vegas. Vote was unanimous.
— John Shea (@JohnSheaHey) November 16, 2023
Athletics owner John Fisher said in a statement that the news of the approved vote was “met with mixed emotions,” saying that while they are sad to be leaving Oakland, they are excited for the future in Las Vegas.
“I know this is a hard day for our fans in Oakland,” Fisher said in the statement. “We made sincere efforts to keep our team in Oakland, but unfortunately, it did not work out. I am grateful to the fans who have supported our team throughout the years and the home Oakland provided. The storied history of our franchise includes three cities over the past century: Oakland, along with Kansas City and Philadelphia, will always be part of this franchise’s DNA.
“We are excited to begin this next chapter in Las Vegas. I want to thank the Las Vegas and Nevada community for welcoming us. We will continue to work hard to bring home more championships for our fans and for our new home in Vegas.”
During a press conference, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said MLB is undecided where the A’s will play after 2024 when the lease expires.
However, as pointed out by The Athletic, there are still other steps that will need to take place before the A’s can actually be headed out to Las Vegas. One potential hurdle could be the Nevada teachers’ union, which is being supported by a Schools over Stadiums political action committee that is fighting for the $380 million in state money set aside for the stadium to be put to a vote.
Both the Athletics and other labor unions have fought against the proposition.
“We launched Schools over Stadiums after the legislative session, where Nevada again fell short in prioritizing public education,” Schools over Stadiums spokesperson Alexander Marks told The Athletic. “We have the nation’s largest class sizes, we have the nation’s highest vacancy rate. That leaves thousands of Nevada classrooms either doubled up or covered with substitute teachers. And basically we’re at a point now where the underfunding compromises the basic function of doing education in our state.
“Our priorities are misguided. … And a stadium publicly financed is not going to solve any of our problems.”
Per The Athletic, Manfred said successful efforts by the teachers’ union to take away the state money for the stadium could jeopardize the relocation efforts.
June 14, 2023
Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo officially signed over a grant for $380 million in public funding to go toward a stadium on the Las Vegas Strip. The entire cost of the stadium is expected to be about $1.5 billion, and it will seat 30,000 people.
— Oakland A’s (@Athletics) August 21, 2023
April 19, 2023
Though there is still plenty of leg work to be done, it appears the inevitable arrived. Kaval made his statement saying the organization would be putting its focus into Las Vegas as opposed to trying to stay in Oakland. Though there have been countless protests by Oakland fans since then, the news all but ended any hopes for the team remaining in Oakland.
Oct. 4, 2022
The city and team missed a key deadline to wrap up negotiations on a stadium deal in order to have a binding vote on the project in 2022. Because the deadline was missed, any vote would have to be moved to 2023. This had already been suggested by Kaval as a major mile marker for any deals, saying that if talks were pushed to 2023, it could “doom our efforts in Oakland.”
March 12, 2022
As part of the new CBA, the Athletics were forced to resolve their stadium situation, either getting a new stadium deal in Oakland or relocating. The penalty would be to lose out on revenue sharing.
May 11, 2019
Back in April 2019, the Athletics unveiled a potential new stadium plan in Howard Terminal, but the idea wound up being blasted when it was revealed to be asking for $855 million in public money. Just over two weeks later, Manfred and MLB released a statement expressing concerns over the slow process of getting a new stadium, and it was reported the team would begin to consider leaving the Bay Area.
Source : ESPN.com