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  • Cooper Burke

In Move Widely Criticized, All 30 Owners Vote to Move A’s to Las Vegas

The newest Vegas symbol of glitz and glamor, the Sphere, lit up in Athletics’ yellow and green with a message heard all around the baseball world. The MLB Owners’ Committee unanimously approved the relocation of the Oakland A’s to Las Vegas in a 30-0 vote, marking the first relocation since the Montreal Expos moved to Washington to become the Nationals. The only other relocation since 1970s was the Washington Senators’ move to Texas to become the Rangers in 1971. The original Senators team moved to Minnesota to become the twins, and so that was the second relocation for a D.C-based team.

Despite protests from fans, pundits, and players alike, the Athletics move to Las Vegas in 2024. Their lease at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum expires that year, and ownership does not expect their Las Vegas stadium to be ready until 2028. Ironically, the new stadium is the most expensive in MLB history, costing a total of $1.5 billion dollars, with $380 million dollars of taxpayer financing. However, it has the smallest capacity of any MLB stadium at 30,000 seats.

Fischer and the Athletics turned to potential relocation after their Oakland Coliseum deal fell through. There were plans to build a new stadium in Oakland, but taxpayers and the local government were unwilling to foot the bill.

“I want to express my gratitude to the owners and Commissioner for their thoughtful deliberation and positive votes in favor of our relocation to Las Vegas," Fisher said in a statement after the vote.

Due to the lack of seating and the Vegas upcharge, tickets are likely to be extremely expensive. Regardless, the novelty of a team in Vegas might draw people to the stands. Previously, the Oakland A’s had the lowest average attendance at 10,275. The only sellouts they had were a reverse “pack the stadium” protest by local fans who wanted the team to stay in the Bay Area.

The financials, combined with the timing of the move, has proven to be one of the most poorly thought-out relocations in sporting history. As of now, the A’s plan to play their games between Las Vegas Ballpark, where their Triple-A affiliate plays, or Oracle Park, where the Giants play. Having a major-league level team play in a minor league stadium for three years is unprecedented, and it is embarrassing for a franchise defined by embarrassment in the past decade.

The widely-maligned A’s owner Fischer issued a halfhearted apology to A’s fans over the move. "I know that today is a very difficult day with the vote by MLB owners allowing for the A's relocation from Oakland to Las Vegas," Fisher said in a statement to the fan base. "I share a lot of those emotions — sadness that our team will be leaving its home since 1968, pride in what we have accomplished together on and off the field in Oakland, but also hope and optimism about the future of the A's in Las Vegas.”

"To our fans, I am truly sorry. While I know today is a sad day, I hope that it is also the start of a new and bright future for the A's."

The move to Las Vegas, a city largely driven on artifice, serves to put a band-aid on the struggling A’s woes. Since their 2020 loss in the ALDS, the Athletics have lost a combined 290 games. To add insult to injury, they have the 26th-ranked farm system in the major leagues. In a sport where rebuilds largely take years due to matriculation of players, the only tenable option would be free agency. Few MLB players want to play in a city like Las Vegas, often due to harsh weather and lack of real industry in the city apart from entertainment.

While we will see what the future holds for the Athletics, the move to Vegas does not bode well for now. As for Oakland fans, they will have to look elsewhere. The Golden State Warriors moved across the Bay back to San Francisco, despite being in Oakland since 1971. The team most synonymous with the city, the Raiders, also moved to Las Vegas in 2020.

In time, sports may return to Oakland, but things look bleak for the once-proud sporting city of Rickey Henderson, Marshawn Lynch, and Reggie Jackson.

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