ARLINGTON, Texas – The Oakland Athletics still don’t know exactly where they’ll be playing for the next few years, but in 2028, they will become the first Major League Baseball team in Las Vegas.
MLB owners voted unanimously Thursday morning to approve A’s owner John Fisher’s relocation proposal to move from Oakland to Las Vegas, becoming the third professional sports franchise to leave Oakland in just the past five years.
The A’s still have a lease to play at the Oakland Coliseum in 2024, but they won’t have a permanent home until 2028 when they are expected to move to a $1.5 billion facility on the Las Vegas Strip.
The A’s told MLB they plan to play in a rotating series of sites until they move, one MLB owner told USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has not yet addressed the plans publicly. They will play games in Summerlin, Nevada, home of the A’s Triple-A team, and Oracle Park in San Francisco, where the San Francisco Giants play, and possibly also at the Coliseum.
His plan is similar to what the Toronto Blue Jays endured during the pandemic when they played home games in Buffalo and their spring training facility in Dunedin, Florida.
While the value of the A’s franchise is expected to rise with suite sales, advertising and ticket revenue from Las Vegas casinos and resorts, the MLB owners inserted a binding protection clause into the contract before agreeing to the deal. If Fisher decides to sell the franchise soon after his move to Las Vegas for an immediate profit, he will be hit with heavy taxes on the sale, which will be split among his fellow MLB owners, according to another owner who spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity.
The relocation vote will end the A’s’ 55-year residency in Oakland after city officials and Fisher were unable to reach an agreement after a nearly 18-year search for a new ballpark in the Bay Area.
Athletics: Protesting fans meet owner John Fisher before voting in Las Vegas
“The Oakland issue is not sustainable,” Dodgers president Mark Walter said. “They’ve been working on it for a long time. You can’t play on this pitch. They couldn’t get it approved. They tried. This wasn’t a header fake. This wasn’t a quick decision.”
The move allows the rival Giants to have Northern California to themselves, while the A’s will move away from the Dodgers’ strong fan base in Las Vegas, but Walter insists the A’s move is in the best interest of the game.
“We are the No. 1 revenue team in the National League,” Walter said. “I’m not against the Giants making money. …
“I hope it’s good for the fans, right? A lot of people can say, ‘Hey, we should go to Vegas for the weekend and see who’s playing.'”
The saddest aspect of the move, as the owners all said this week in their meetings, is for the die-hard A’s fans. Their numbers may have been small, but they were passionate, with Fisher speaking to three protesters this week who pushed hard for the team’s survival, even sending DVDs and letters from the mayor of Oakland to the owners’ personal baseball cards.
Stu Sternberg, principal owner of the Tampa Bay Rays, says he can definitely relate. The Rays have been trying to reach an agreement with Tampa Bay officials for nearly two decades to build a new stadium, and they have a handshake deal for a $1.3 billion facility in St. Petersburg in 2028.
“It’s not always easy, believe me,” Sternberg said. “I can’t put myself in their shoes. I know they tried hard. Anyone would try to avoid what they had to go through. It’s hard or rough.”
Dave Stewart, the legendary pitcher and World Series MVP who was born and raised in Oakland, says he feels for everyone in the community. He wanted to buy the A’s sign if Fisher wanted to sell it, and attempted to purchase the land at the Oakland Coliseum from the Oakland City Council, with plans to develop the site and perhaps even build a ballpark for the A’s. He’s now gone and is putting his efforts into trying to put together an expansion team in Nashville, Tennessee, with MLB expected to expand by two teams perhaps by 2028 or 2029.
“the [Oakland] “The City Council gets as much blame for this as the A’s,” Stewart told USA TODAY Sports in a phone interview. “If you put two sides in a room, you should be able to accomplish something, and after all these years, nothing has changed. There had to be a compromise. I always felt like they could accomplish something, and after all these years, nothing has happened.” .
“This would be extremely devastating to the city of Auckland. The city of Oakland is in very bad shape economically due to crime and homelessness. They needed an economical engine like the A’s. I saw the invaders leaving, and [Golden State] The warriors are leaving, but I thought the elite would stay there forever.
“This is heartbreaking to me, just heartbreaking.”
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