ARLINGTON, Texas — The Oakland Athletics still don’t know exactly where they’ll play for the next few years, but in 2028, they could become Las Vegas’ first Major League Baseball team.
MLB owners voted unanimously Thursday morning to approve A’s owner John Fisher’s relocation plan to move from Oakland to Las Vegas, the third professional sports franchise to leave Oakland in the past five years.
The A’s still have a lease to play at the Oakland Coliseum through 2024, but won’t have a permanent home until 2028, when they’re expected to move to a $1.5 billion facility on the Las Vegas Strip.
The A’s plan to play on a rotating set of bases until they move to MLB, as MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has yet to publicly announce the plans, an MLB owner told USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity. They will play in Summerlin, Nevada, home of the A’s Triple-A team, Oracle Park in San Francisco, where the San Francisco Giants play, and at the Coliseum.
He plans to do the same as when the Toronto Blue Jays played home games in Buffalo during the pandemic and at their spring training facility in Dunedin, Florida.
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The A’s franchise is expected to increase in value with package sales, advertising and ticket revenue from Las Vegas casinos and resorts, with MLB owners including a binding security provision in the deal before approving the deal. Another owner who spoke with USA TODAY Sports said that if Fisher moves to Las Vegas and decides to sell the franchise after making an immediate profit, he would be subject to a higher tax on the sale, which would be split among his fellow MLB owners. Anonymity.
The relocation vote would end the A’s 55-year stay in Oakland after city officials and Fisher failed to reach an agreement after nearly 18 years of searching for a new ballpark in the Bay Area.
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“The Oakland thing is not sustainable,” Dodgers president Mark Walter said. “They’ve worked so long. They can’t play on that field. They can’t get approval. They’ve tried. It’s not some fake head. It’s not a quick decision.
The move allows their rival Giants to keep Northern California to themselves while the A’s take away the Dodgers’ strong fan base in Las Vegas, but Walter insists the A’s move is in the best interest of the game.
“We’re 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 can go to Vegas on the weekend and see them play.’
The most heartbreaking aspect of the move, the owners have all said in their meetings this week, is for the A’s avid fans. They may be small in number, but they’re passionate, and Fisher spoke to three protesters this week who lobbied hard for the group to stay, sending out DVDs and messages from Oakland’s mayor to personalized baseball cards to owners.
Stu Sternberg, principal owner of the Tampa Bay Rays, says he can certainly relate. The Rays have been trying to reach an agreement with Tampa Bay officials for nearly two decades to build a new ballpark, and have reached an agreement to shake hands 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 really hard. Anyone would try to avoid what they had to go through. It’s hard.”
Dave Stewart, the A’s legendary pitcher and World Series MVP, who was born and raised in Oakland, says he feels for everyone in the community. If Fisher ever wanted to sell it, he wanted to buy the A’s and also tried to buy the land on the Oakland Coliseum from the Oakland City Council, planning to improve the site and even build a ballpark for the A’s. With MLB expected to expand by two teams by 2028 or 2029, he has now spent his efforts building an expansion team in Nashville, Tennessee.
“The [Oakland] “To what extent is the City Council to blame for this,” Stewart told USA TODAY Sports in a phone interview. “If you put both sides in a room, you can do something, and after all these years, nothing has changed. There should have been neutrality. I always felt they could do something, and after all these years, nothing happened.
“It’s very damaging to the city of Oakland. The city of Oakland is in such bad shape economically, with crime, homelessness. They needed an economic driver like A. I saw the Raiders leave, and [Golden State] The Warriors are leaving, but I thought the A’s would stay forever.
“It breaks my heart, it breaks my heart.”
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