The Oakland Athletics have signed a binding agreement to purchase land for a new retractable roof ballpark in Las Vegas after being unable to build a new venue in the Bay Area.
Team president Dave Kaval said Wednesday night the team struck a deal last week to buy the 49-acre site where the A’s plan to build the stadium near the Las Vegas Strip with a seating capacity of 30,000-35,000.
The A’s will work with Nevada and Clark County through a public-private partnership to fund the stadium. Kaval said the A’s hopes to lay the groundwork by next year and hope to move into their new home by 2027.
“It’s obviously a very big milestone for us,” said Kaval. “We worked in Las Vegas for almost two years trying to find a location suitable for a long-term home. Identifying a location and having a contract of sale is a big step.”
The A’s had spent years looking for a new home to replace the outdated and dilapidated Oakland Coliseum, where the team had played since arriving from Kansas City for the 1968 season. They had attempted to build a stadium in Fremont and San Jose before turning their attention to Oakland’s waterfront.
Las Vegas was the fourth home for a franchise that began as the Philadelphia Athletics from 1901 to 1954.
“We have our full attention on Las Vegas,” Kaval said. “We were on parallel paths before. But we’re really focused on Las Vegas as our route to finding a future home for the A’s.”
Commissioner Rob Manfred said in December that the A’s would not have to pay a relocation fee if the team moved to Las Vegas.
“We have exceeded any reasonable timeframe to resolve the situation in Oakland,” Manfred said.
Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao said in a statement to the San Francisco Chronicle that she was disappointed the A’s did not negotiate with the city as a “true partner.”
“The city has done everything it can to get mutually beneficial terms to keep the A’s in Oakland,” she said. “Over the past three months we have made significant progress towards closing the deal. However, I do realize that the A’s have no intention of staying in Oakland and have simply used this process to try and make a better deal out of Las Vegas. I’m not interested in continuing to play this game – the fans and our residents deserve better.
“I am incredibly proud of what we have accomplished as a city, including securing a position in good standing and over $375 million in new infrastructure investments that will benefit Oakland and its port for generations to come. At a time of budget deficits, I refuse to compromise the safety and well-being of our residents. In light of these facts, we are halting negotiations and are looking at alternatives for the redevelopment of Howard Terminal.”
The A’s would be only the second MLB team to change cities in more than half a century. Since the Washington Senators became the Texas Rangers in 1972, the only team to move has been the Montreal Expos, who became the Washington Nationals in 2005.
The lease of the A in the Coliseum expires after the 2024 season. The A’s have struggled to attract fans to the Colosseum in recent years as owner John Fisher has slashed payroll and many of the team’s most prominent stars have been traded away.
Oakland had baseball’s lowest opening-day salary total at $58 million — less than the combined salaries of Mets pitchers Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, who posted a major league high of $43.3 million.
The team is 3-16 this season and has been surpassed by 86 runs — their worst mark in 19 games since 1899. The average attendance in 12 home games this season is 11,027, the lowest mark in the majors and less than half of League average about 27,800. The A’s have not attracted 2 million fans at home since 2014 – their only year since 2005 that they have reached the mark.
If the A’s left Oakland, the city with a rich sporting heritage would no longer have major professional sports teams, as the 2020 NFL Raiders would have moved to Las Vegas and the 2019 NBA Warriors would have moved across the bay to San Francisco.
“We know this is a difficult message for our people in Oakland,” Kaval said. “Obviously we are grateful for all the hard work that has gone into the Waterfront. But we could not achieve success or make enough progress.”
Las Vegas has quickly become a sports mecca after years of being considered a pariah due to its ties to the gambling industry. With gambling legalized across much of the country, the city could now have a baseball team to join the NHL’s Golden Knights, which started as an expansion team in 2017, and the Raiders.
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