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MLB owners vote to approve the move of the Athletics to Las Vegas

What could possibly go wrong?

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Photo by Louis Grasse/Getty Images

It’s been rumored for a year or so, and now it’s apparently official, the move of the Oakland Athletics to Las Vegas:

I have written on this topic many, many times over the last year, in chronological order: Here, here, here, here and here. It’s a bad idea for any number of reasons, but the summary is: No one knows where corporate money or season-ticket money is going to come from, the proposed stadium won’t come near the capacity needed to draw fans, and the TV market is both small and currently doesn’t have a regional sports network. And if you don’t believe me, how about basically the same words from Evan Drellich at The Athletic?

A report overseen by Major League Baseball’s relocation committee on the Oakland Athletics’ proposed move to Las Vegas is in the hands of all 30 club owners and is said to pose questions about the viability of the market.

One person briefed on the report described the A’s potential for success in Las Vegas as “iffy” but added there was no perceived better alternative, despite Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao’s contention that the necessary funding can be found in Oakland.

That person also said the report showed a heavy burden for the A’s success in Las Vegas would rest on tourism. A second person briefed on the report did not feel tourism was so heavily emphasized but acknowledged it as significant.

The city’s media market would be the smallest of any major-league team, minimizing the potential TV revenue available. And though Las Vegas’ population is growing, its transient nature leads to two questions: How many out-of-towners would attend A’s games, and how eagerly would the dominant local businesses — the casinos — sponsor and support the team?

That doesn’t sound like a recipe for success, does it?

Beyond that, the A’s lease in Oakland expires after 2024 — and can you imagine the reaction of Oakland fans next year to a lame-duck team? The A’s lost 112 games in 2023, and finished the season losing 13 of their last 17. The 2024 A’s could be the worst team in MLB history. (Of course, a lot of people said that about the ‘23 A’s after they started 12-50, and it didn’t happen.)

The most optimistic projections have a new stadium in Las Vegas no earlier than 2028. So where are the A’s going to play for three years while that’s constructed? In the Triple-A park in Las Vegas, which is a) outdoors, where it’s 110 degrees for three months, and b) seats only around 11,000? The MLB Players Association might have something to say about its players forced to play outdoors in that heat. (Yes, Triple-A players do it, but... the MLBPA will have a voice in this.)

All told, the A’s moving to Las Vegas is a bad idea and it’s about to be poorly executed.

Again: What could possibly go wrong? (Other than everything.)