The future of baseball in Oakland is expected to be determined this week at the MLB owners meetings in Arlington, Texas.
The A’s, who have played at the Oakland Coliseum since arriving from Kansas City in 1968, are seeking to relocate their franchise to Las Vegas, where they plan to build a stadium on The Strip after failing to strike a deal to build a new stadium in the East Bay.
Oakland officials have been adamant that they did their part to raise money for a stadium, and they are preaching positivity to a fanbase poised to lose its second team (third counting the Warriors’ move to San Francisco) in five years.
The league’s owners are set to put the A’s relocation plan to a vote sometime during the meetings, which begin Tuesday and end Thursday.
Here are five things to know about the situation:
1. The owners are likely to vote yes
A’s owner John Fisher needs 75% approval (23 total ‘yes’ votes) from his fellow team governors for the relocation bid to pass.
Fisher has likely frustrated some of his fellow owners with the negative publicity generated by the proposed move, as well as the A’s cynical management of their payroll and moves to receive payments via MLB’s revenue sharing model.
Still, most MLB owners would be very careful not to establish precedent of voting against a team governor making changes as he pleases.
2. There are plenty more steps to come
The vote is a major hurdle, but it’s hardly the last one before relocation is official.
Fisher and the A’s franchise does have $380 million in funding in place from the state of Nevada, but that may be in some jeopardy as a Nevada teachers union is working to gather signatures to put some of those funds on the 2024 ballot.
Beyond that, the team must sort out how to privately finance the remaining estimated $1.2 billion in construction cost, finalize renderings and put into place agreements to build and operate the stadium.
3. The A’s will play at least next season in Oakland
The team’s lease at the Coliseum runs through 2024, so there will be at least one lame-duck season in Oakland if relocation is approved.
Dave Kaval has floated three locations for the team to play home games between 2025 and 2028, when the proposed Vegas stadium is expected to open: Oracle Park, the Giants’ stadium in San Francisco; Las Vegas Ballpark, the home of the A’s Triple-A team in Summerlin, Nevada; and the Coliseum itself.
Oakland mayor Sheng Thao has said that before agreeing to an extension of the team’s lease, she wants to discuss with Major League Baseball the possibility of an expansion team coming to Oakland, as well as the Athletics team name and colors remaining here to pair with a potential new team, though the odds of expansion to Oakland soon seem quite slim.
4. Moving to Vegas would downgrade the A’s ballpark capacity and market size
The A’s are looking to build a 33,000-seat ballpark on the Vegas strip with a retractable roof for especially hot summer days, plus a casino development on 9 acres of adjacent land that the franchise would lease from the current landowners.
City officials are quick to point out that this is a much smaller haul than what the team had sought at Oakland’s harbor: a 35,000-seat waterfront ballpark with a surrounding village of 3,000 new homes, plus massive commercial developments and office space.
If the A’s were to scale down their dream development at the Oakland port to something closer to the Vegas proposal, then the team could still end up owning far more land than it would in Vegas, with major regulatory hurdles in the Bay Area already cleared.
Another note: The Coliseum is the MLB’s largest ballpark, whereas the Vegas stadium would be the league’s smallest.
And by ditching Oakland, the A’s would give up a share of the country’s 10th largest media market to occupy the 40th-ranked city on the list, according to Nielsen data.
5. The A’s need a binding stadium deal by January or risk losing important revenue
MLB owners will vote this week on Oakland A’s bid to move to Las Vegas; here’s what’s happened and what’s next
A gift box like no other: Oakland A’s fans urge 15 MLB owners to help keep their team in the Bay Area
Geracie: When San Jose’s aces ruled Major League Baseball
In showy late-game swing, Oakland mayor calls for MLB owners to reject A’s move
Why Oakland A’s manager Mark Kotsay is unlikely to interview for any other managerial openings
The A’s posted the league’s worst win-loss record this season on the way to finishing dead last in attendance, though a couple “reverse boycott” games over the summer led fans to pack the stands.
The MLB’s revenue-sharing model guarantees the struggling franchise a critical stream of millions of dollars annually. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, meanwhile, has waived the team’s relocation fee.
But the shared revenue available in 2024 and 2025 comes with a condition: The A’s must have a binding agreement for a new stadium by Jan. 15.
If Fisher’s fellow owners surprise observers by siding against him, it’s possible he would scramble to secure a ballpark deal within the next couple months — and Mayor Sheng Thao said last week the door in Oakland would be wide open.
“This is not over, not by a long shot,” Thao told A’s fans last week at a public rally. “We are urging the MLB owners: It’s very simple — vote no.”