Colin Healy ‘25
A decision Oakland sports fans have been dreading for years has finally arrived. Last week, the Athletics, Oakland’s professional baseball team which has called the Bay Area home since 1968, announced plans to move to Las Vegas within the next decade. After years of debate between the franchise and city of Oakland, the decision seemingly marks the end of the A’s time in Oakland.
The quality of baseball in Oakland the past few years has been decent. The team reached the postseason five times in the 2010s, winning the AL West division twice.
The 2020s have not been quite as nice, though. After winning the division in the COVID-shortned 2020 season, the A’s finished third in the division in 2021 and dead last in 2022, losing 102 games. And just a month into this season, Oakland sits last in the entire league, sporting a record of 4-18.
Talk of relocation has tormented A’s fans for several years now, and the mixed results haven’t helped. Especially with the decline the past two years, many A’s fans reached their tipping point with the team’s ownership. The attendance at A’s home games reflects the dissatisfaction. Some fans have even purposely boycotted games as a form of protest against the owners. They think that ownership will be forced to build a new stadium in Oakland in order to rejuvenate interest in the team.
Or so these fans thought. Oakland Coliseum, the A’s current home stadium, has been one of the biggest handicaps to the organization and fans. The dilapidated ballpark gave the A’s an ultimatum: either build a new one somewhere else in Oakland, or move the franchise. The fan boycott aimed to spur the process on the former, yet it has only yielded the latter.
After failed discussions between the city of Oakland and the A’s, ownership shifted its attention to relocating a couple of years ago. Las Vegas, which poached the NFL’s Raiders from Oakland in 2020, was a leading suitor for the A’s from the get-go. Though not official, it looks as if Las Vegas has all but closed the deal.
On top of the Raiders, Vegas has already added an NHL expansion team: the Vegas Golden Knights. The Sin City has emerged as one of North American pro sports’ biggest markets, and with the A’s will have three out of the four major North American sports franchises.
The team has already agreed to purchase land for a new stadium, which is planned to have a retractable roof and capacity somewhere in the 30,000s. It’s unclear when construction will begin, but the plan is to have the A’s in their new home in Vegas by the end of the decade. It’s also worth noting that the team’s lease with the Oakland Coliseum is up in a couple of years. The A’s might have to do their best Arizona Coyotes impression before they get new digs and play ball at a stadium unfit for MLB play.
Relocation isn’t anything new in pro sports. The Raiders did it, as did the LA Chargers. The Coyotes may be close to leaving Arizona. Nor is expansion, which might come next to the MLB. Montreal, which lost the Expos to Washington D.C. in 2005, has clamored for a franchise ever since. It will be interesting to see what Rob Manfred, and commissioners across the four major sports, have up their sleeves. It feels like relocation and expansion are always on their minds.
Again, this deal is not done. But while there still is a chance for the A’s to stay in Oakland, it is slim to none. Las Vegas is growing a pro sports empire, and they have a stranglehold on the A’s. It’s certainly a tough blow to Oakland fans, but at the end of the day it’s ownership who has final say. Right now, they’re saying it’s time for an escape from Oakland. They’ve got Vegas on their minds.
Featured image courtesy of mlb.com/Athletics
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