The Oakland Athletics could soon be joining the Raiders and moving to Las Vegas. After years of dwindling attendance and major stadium issues, the club announced a land purchase for a new stadium in Sin City on Friday that could see the A’s hosting games in Vegas as soon as the end of the 2024 season.
“The A’s ownership group, led by John Fisher, has reached a binding deal to purchase a 49-acre plot of land in Las Vegas, which would become the site of a new ballpark estimated to cost $1.5 billion built with a mixture of public and private financing,” the Wall Street Journal reported. “The A’s expect to contribute $1 billion of private capital to the deal, while asking the city of Las Vegas for $500 million to build their new ballpark.”
The newspaper also noted that Red Rocks Resorts, the gaming corporation that owns the casino of the same name as well as Station Casinos, is selling the land to the A’s for $235 million.
More Details on the Move to Las Vegas
The Athletics won four World Series in Oakland and produced numerous popular players since the team moved to the Bay Area from Kansas City in 1968. Some of those famous faces included Catfish Hunter, Rollie Fingers, Rickey Henderson, Dennis Eckersley, Joe Canseco, Mark McGwire, and others. The 1970s saw the A’s win three straight World Series from 1972-74 and then again in 1989.
Recent years saw the club embrace the “Moneyball” concept of running baseball operations embraced by Executive Vice President Billy Beane. The team drafted players and worked for success with younger players and unorthodox drafting strategies, being deep analytics to the game along with lower payrolls. With limited funds the team rarely re-signed free agents but the concept led to some playoff success, but not major increases in attendance.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the team negotiated with Oakland city officials in recent weeks but was unable to reach a stadium deal that might keep the franchise in the area. The city accused the A’s of negotiating in “bad faith” and expressed disappointment with the news of the move.
However, the A’s faced obstacles in continued negotiation with Oakland. The MLB collective bargaining agreement requires a stadium deal by Jan. 15, 2024. If not, the A’s would be removed from the MLB revenue-sharing distribution plan.
“The weight of the inability to have a binding agreement (with the city of Oakland) ahead of the deadline that MLB has imposed has really forced us to seek alternatives,” team President Dave Kaval told the Journal. “We have an alternative that exists that looks very promising in Nevada and we are putting everything we have into making that happen.”
Team officials didn’t see a new stadium in Oakland on the horizon for at least seven years. The team now will finalize the agreement with Red Rocks and look for private and public funding for the stadium. The move also requires approval by 75% of MLB owners.
The stadium would be located just west of the famous Las Vegas Strip, at Dean Martin Drive and Tropicana Avenue and north of Allegiant Stadium. There seems to be support for the relocation among MLB officials.
“We support the A’s turning their focus on Las Vegas,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told the Las Vegas Review-Journal, “and look forward to them bringing finality to this process by the end of the year.”
Sports Leagues Shifting to Sin City
The Raiders have found major success, at least at the ticket office, since moving to Las Vegas from Oakland in 2020. Many visitors to the city each fall now add attending a Raiders game to their itinerary.
The Golden Knight have seen similar success since becoming an NHL expansion franchise in 2017. The A’s are hoping to find similar success in a city that was mostly off limits among pro leagues before sports betting became more pervasive across the country. The A’s coming to town would now give Las Vegas three teams in the country’s four major sports leagues.
The club’s current 10-year deal with Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum expires after the 2024 season, which could mean the team could then relocate to Las Vegas. Since 1983, the Las Vegas Aviators baseball team has called the city home. The team is a AAA affiliate of the A’s and play in a 10,000-seat stadium in Summerlin. The A’s have a deal to use that stadium if needed for the 2025 and 2026 seasons.
The team would also continue using the “Athletics” name as part of the move to Las Vegas, which dates back to 1901. The club came into existence in Philadelphia as one of the American League’s original franchises.