Baseball in Sin City: Oakland Athletics Begin their Move to Las Vegas

By Max Ferguson, Staff Writer

The Oakland Athletics have initiated plans to leave the city of Oakland, California after 65 years. Like the Raiders before them, the A’s are moving to Las Vegas. The team recently purchased a 49 acre plot of land for over $1 billion west of the Vegas Strip, directly across the street from T-Mobile Arena, where the Vegas Golden Knights play hockey. 

This move comes from years of degradation of the Oakland Coliseum in tandem with historically low attendance numbers, with some AAA Minor League teams outselling A’s games

To emphasize how run down the Oakland Coliseum is, on their April 6 opening day, a possum was reported to be living in the walls of the guest team broadcast booth. After an eight-day road trip, where the Coliseum remained vacant, the possum had fully taken over the visiting team broadcast booth. Following the road trip, the A’s returned to Oakland to play the Mets on April 14. Mets commentators Gary Cohen and Ron Darling complained of a foul stench in the broadcast booth and had to call the game from elsewhere in the stadium. 

The move to Vegas and the reasoning behind it shed light on the Athletics ballclub’s upper level management. Oakland has been a notoriously stingy franchise. The movie “Moneyball,” for example, is based on the team’s goal of building a winning squad with the leanest budget possible. Since the 2000s, the Athletics have been trying to play “moneyball” with little success. Last season, they ended with a triple-digit number in the loss column. 

The Athletics claim that they are leaving Oakland because game attendance has been historically poor. A’s fans are not happy with this reasoning. In fact, they are planning a “reverse boycott,” by selling out the A’s games to prove to team owner John Fisher that they are not the problem.  Regardless, the front office sought out a market that could reliably sell more tickets. The team settled on Las Vegas because it is a steadily growing urban center with a dynamic market that shows no signs of stopping. 

Las Vegas taxpayers are likely going to be the ones financing their new team’s home. The Raiders, who moved from Oakland to Las Vegas in 2017, got their new home city to pay $750 million for a new stadium, a cost that prompted a tax hike. The Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce has already approved financial backing for the A’s new stadium, which may lead to another tax hike.

There are also logistical issues with this move. The A’s contract to play in the Oakland Coliseum terminates at the end of the 2024 season. However, construction of their new ballpark in Vegas is not expected to be completed until 2027. They will either have to renew with the City of Oakland for another three years, which the city is reluctant to do, or they could take over the Las Vegas Aviators’ ballpark, their AAA affiliate. However, the two teams would have to schedule their games in a way that both teams could complete a full 162 game season. Alternatively, the A’s could simply relocate the Aviators. 

Once the move officially goes down, Oakland will be left with no professional sports teams to call their own. The exodus of professional sports from the city of Oakland is upsetting to loyal fans. Regardless, the plan for the A’s departure from Oakland is already in motion. Unless ticket sales explode and stay consistently high, A’s fans must watch their team pack up and move.

Author: Gettysburgian Staff

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