The Athletics’ plan to move from Oakland to Las Vegas was approved Thursday by Major League Baseball owners. Owners met this week in Arlington, Texas, and at least 75 percent of them were expected to sign the report submitted to them by MLB’s relocation committee. No owner opposed this decision. Given that Commissioner Rob Manfred has already expressed support for the A’s decision, such support always seemed very likely.
The A’s are set to become the first MLB team to relocate since 2005, when the Montreal Expos became the Washington Nationals. The A’s lease at their current home, the Oakland Coliseum, expires after the 2024 season. The A’s could end up playing in multiple locations before moving to their new stadium in Las Vegas in 2028.
“I know this is a terrible day for Oakland fans,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said. told reporters Thursday. “I understand that. That’s why it’s always been our policy to do everything humanly possible to avoid relocation, and I sincerely believe we did that in this case.”
The approval of John Fisher’s co-owners is one of the final hurdles in his attempt to move the franchise to Nevada, but it may not be the most important checkpoint remaining. Fisher has yet to secure private financing for his share of the stadium’s construction costs, and given the questionable nature of some aspects of the project, there’s nothing to presume on that front.
In effect, the A’s are proposing to move from a shared location in one of the league’s largest markets, the Bay Area, to what would be the league’s smallest market. Additionally, the projections put forward by the A’s lean heavily on tourism, and in Las Vegas there is intense, intense competition for discretionary visitor dollars.
Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo signed a $380 million state funding bill in mid-June to attract athletes to town. The actual cost of the bill will likely exceed $380 million, Neil deMause said. The entire rough project is expected to cost more than $1 billion, meaning Fisher still has a lot of work to do to reach viability.
Private financiers will likely be much less willing to dismiss these fundamental market concerns than Fisher’s co-owners appear to be. This is necessary context even as the reshoring effort moves to the next stage.
“Today marks an important moment for our franchise, and it brings mixed emotions: sadness for this change and excitement for our future. I know this is a difficult day for our fans in Oakland,” Fisher said in a statement. communicated. “We made a sincere effort to keep our team in Oakland, but unfortunately it did not work out. I am grateful to the fans who have supported our team over the years and the home Oakland provided. The Story of Our franchise includes three cities over the last century: Oakland, alongside Kansas City and Philadelphia, will always be part of the DNA of this franchise.
The A’s could become the fourth major professional sports team in Las Vegas, joining the NFL’s Raiders, the NHL’s Golden Knights and the WNBA’s Aces. All of these franchises started playing in Vegas in 2017 or later.
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