The Oakland Athletics relocation to Las Vegas, Nevada, was approved by a unanimous vote of Major League Baseball’s owners Thursday.
The move, which is anticipated for the 2028 season, will be the third in franchise history. The nine-time world champions moved from Philadelphia to Kansas City for the 1955 season and then left Kansas City for Oakland following the 1967 season.
With the Athletics departure, Oakland will have lost three major sports teams since 2019. The Golden State Warriors moved across the bay to San Francisco for the 2019-20 NBA season, and the Oakland Raiders moved to Las Vegas for the 2020 NFL season.
Why Leave Oakland?
The announcement is no surprise for those familiar with the A’s situation. One of the primary reasons for the team’s exit is due to the franchise not getting a new stadium.
The Oakland-Alameda Coliseum, which the A’s have called home since 1968, has been regarded as one of the worst ballparks in the MLB for quite some time. Opened in 1966, the Coliseum is the fifth oldest stadium in the league.
Oakland Coliseum pic.twitter.com/4hPtH6RlnK
— BaseballHistoryNut (@nut_history) November 14, 2023
Additionally, the venue is the last multi-purpose stadium in the MLB. The stadium was built with the capability to host football with the Raiders and was renovated in 1996 to satisfy the team’s seating needs.
The renovation replaced the Athletics’ once scenic backdrop with added seating commonly referred to as “Mount Davis.”
While being multi-purpose makes the stadium rather versatile, it also adds unusual quirks to the ballpark.
One example is the shape of the field. Most baseball fields resemble a singular quadrant of a circle, while the A’s field is more circular. This pushes the fans further away from the foul line and the action on the field.
The Coliseum is also one of two ballparks with bullpens on the field. This feature can be interesting for fans but puts relief pitchers at risk of being hit by hard-lined foul balls.
No New Stadium
Because of its ability to host football, the stadium is also the largest in terms of capacity at 56,782. This could seem like a plus, but the A’s have consistently been at the bottom of the MLB in terms of attendance. Oakland has only drawn two million total fans once since the 2005 season. The median attendance total for the 2023 season was roughly 2.5 million.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred spoke to the media regarding the failed effort to build a new stadium for the team in Oakland.
“A Terrible Day for Fans in Oakland”
Understandably, the announcement was difficult for fans in Oakland.
For some time, many Athletics fans have been displeased with owner John Fisher’s control of the franchise. One reason is due to Fisher’s lack of spending on players. Over the past 10 seasons, the A’s have been in the bottom eight in team payroll.
In addition, during a June 13 game against the Tampa Bay Rays, over 27,000 fans came for a “reverse boycott” to show resentment towards Fisher. Throughout the game, A’s fans chanted “sell the team.”
Manfred views the announcement as a “terrible day for fans in Oakland” but looks forward to the prospect of fans in Las Vegas. Fisher reiterated a similar message.
Slugging in Sin City
The move to Vegas isn’t completely official due to some pushbacks over public spending, but the relocation seems inevitable.
Although no stadium deal is official, plans for a 33,000-seat ballpark are in the works. If the proposal goes through, the A’s would go from the league’s largest to smallest stadium with respect to seating.
The Nevada Senate passed a $380 million bill on Tuesday to help fund a new stadium for the Athletics in Las Vegas.
This is the first step toward the expected move of the franchise from Oakland. https://t.co/uCMFlLj3uj
— ESPN (@espn) June 14, 2023
The Athletics lease in Oakland ends following the 2024 season, and Fisher stated that a stadium in Vegas will be ready for the 2028 season. It is unclear as to where the A’s will call home from 2025-27, but Manfred claims that extending the lease in Oakland is an option.
Fisher is excited about the opportunities in Nevada and looks at the Las Vegas Raiders and Golden Knights as models for success in that market.