ARLINGTON, Texas − The Oakland Athletics still don’t know exactly where they will play in the next few years, but in 2028 they will become Las Vegas’ first Major League Baseball team.
MLB owners voted unanimously Thursday morning to approve A’s owner John Fisher’s proposed move to move from Oakland to Las Vegas, becoming the third professional sports franchise to leave Oakland in the past five recent years only.
The A’s still have a lease to play at the Oakland Coliseum in 2024, but won’t have a permanent home until 2028, when they are expected to move into a $1.5 billion facility on the Las Vegas Strip.
The A’s have told MLB they plan to play at a series of rotating venues until they move, an MLB owner told USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity because the A’s commissioner MLB’s Rob Manfred has yet to publicly address these plans. They will play games in Summerlin, Nev., home of the A’s Triple-A team, at Oracle Park in San Francisco, where the San Francisco Giants play, and perhaps also at the Coliseum.
The plan is similar to what the Toronto Blue Jays endured during the pandemic when they played most of their home games in Buffalo.
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With the A’s franchise expected to increase in value through suite sales, advertising and ticket revenue from Las Vegas casinos and resorts, MLB owners inserted a binding protection provision into the contract before to approve the agreement. If Fisher decides to sell the franchise soon after moving to Las Vegas to make an immediate profit, he will be heavily taxed on the sale, which will be split among his fellow MLB owners, according to another owner who spoke to USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity.
The relocation vote will 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 stadium in the Bay Area.
ATHLETICS:Protesting fans meet with owner John Fisher before the vote in Las Vegas
“Oakland’s problem is not sustainable,” Dodgers president Mark Walter said. “They’ve been working on this for a long time. You can’t play in this stadium. They couldn’t get approval. They tried. It wasn’t a fake head. It wasn’t a quick decision.
The move allows their rival Giants to now have Northern California to themselves, while the A’s will chip away at the Dodgers’ strong fan base in Las Vegas, but Walter insists the A’s decision is in best interest of the game.
“We’re the No. 1 team in revenue 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 may say, “Hey, we should go to Vegas for the weekend and see who they’re playing.” »
The most heartbreaking aspect of this decision, the owners all said this week in their meetings, is for the A’s passionate fans. They may be few in number, but they have been passionate, with Fisher speaking even to three protesters this week who vigorously lobbied for the team to stay, even sending DVDs, messages from the mayor of Oakland and personalized baseball cards to the owners.
Stu Sternberg, principal owner of the Tampa Bay Rays, says he can certainly relate. The Rays have been trying to reach a deal with Tampa Bay officials for about two decades to build a new ballpark and reached 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 place. I know they tried very hard. Anyone would try to avoid what he had to go through. It’s hard.”
Dave Stewart, the legendary A’s 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 if Fisher ever wanted to sell it, and even tried to purchase the land for the Oakland Coliseum from the Oakland City Council, with the intention of developing the site and perhaps even building a ballpark for the A’s. He is now focusing his efforts on trying to have an expansion team in Nashville, Tennessee, with MLB expected to expand by two teams perhaps by 2028 or 2029.
“The (Oakland) City Council has as much to blame as the A’s,” Stewart told USA TODAY Sports in a phone interview. “If you put two sides to a coin, you should be able to do something, and after all these years, nothing has changed.” There should have been a happy medium. I always felt like they could do something, and after all these years, nothing has happened.
“This is going to be very detrimental to the city of Oakland.” The city of Oakland is in a pretty bad economic situation due to crime and homelessness. They needed an economic engine like the A’s. I saw the Raiders go and the (Golden State) Warriors go, but I thought the A’s would be there forever.
“It’s heartbreaking to me, just heartbreaking.”
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