The Cubs just finished a three-game sweep of the A’s in Oakland Wednesday afternoon, outscoring the home team 26-3 in the three games.
That’s probably NOT the cause of this:
I’ve now heard from the Oakland Mayor and the A’s. Oakland pulling negotiations. A’s placing entire emphasis on Las Vegas. Saying they made a sincere effort in Oakland but unable to make it work. Pretty stunning to say the least.— Casey Pratt (@CaseyPrattABC7) April 20, 2023
Let’s be clear on this. A’s ownership has spent the last couple of years literally trying to alienate the Oakland fanbase. They’ve traded away virtually all their good veteran players — let’s not forget the A’s were a 97-win playoff team in both 2018 and 2019 — and jacked up ticket and parking prices to the point where most A’s fans simply don’t want to come to the games anymore. The seat I bought for the Monday and Tuesday night games in Oakland would have cost $80 if I had bought it from the team. On Stubhub it was $37. This is undoubtedly the reason the A’s have sold just 132,308 tickets for 12 home games so far, an average of 11,026, dead last in MLB and likely to go under 10,000 soon.
Here’s a statement from the mayor of Oakland:
Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao says in statement the City of Oakland is "ceasing negotiations" with the A's and "moving forward on alternatives for the redevelopment of Howard Terminal." https://t.co/ka29N2U542— Matt Kawahara (@matthewkawahara) April 20, 2023
You can read the entire statement from the mayor of Oakland here. Read the entire thread, it’s worth your time.
Statement from @MayorShengThao on Oakland A's Las Vegas ballpark news: "I am deeply disappointed that the A’s have chosen not to negotiate with the City of Oakland as a true partner, in a way that respects the long relationship between the fans, the City and the team." (pt 1)— Sarah Ravani (@SarRavani) April 20, 2023
So the A’s are heading to Vegas. But wait:
Again, this is far from a done deal in Las Vegas. But this makes the A's already as partial ducks in Oakland.— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) April 20, 2023
There's no MLB-level stadium in Vegas. Might take 3-4 years to build one AFTER all approvals. Maybe 4-5 more years at the Coliseum after the A's announce a move? YEEESH. https://t.co/YivO4csr7z
That would be an ugly scene for baseball, a lame duck team playing in the worst stadium in the league for that long. Some on Twitter mentioned the possibility of the A’s temporarily playing in Las Vegas Ballpark, the Triple-A stadium now home to the Las Vegas Aviators, which seats about 10,00. But:
I've been told it is not MLB ready. It'd take more upgrades. That wouldn't be cheap. Which would be irrelevant once the A's move into the new stadium. Just adds costs to costs. https://t.co/BmwMX54dgL— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) April 20, 2023
I seem to recall that when that park was built, it was stated that expansion to 30,000 seats could happen, which would be suitable for a MLB team on a temporary basis. But — it’s really, really hot in Las Vegas in June, July and August (the average high all three months is over 110), nearly as hot as Phoenix, which is why a retractable-roof park had to be built for the Diamondbacks. Yes, Triple-A players play there outdoors in the summer, but for MLB I’d think the Players Association would have something to say about the heat. Also, the Aviators, who are the A’s Triple-A affiliate, would have to move — somewhere.
This Las Vegas Review-Journal article notes that the team has entered into a binding agreement to buy land for a new stadium, not far from the Las Vegas Strip and Allegiant Stadium, home of the NFL’s Raiders:
The agreement is for 49 acres at Dean Martin Drive and Tropicana Avenue, owned by Red Rock Resorts, parent company of Station Casinos.
There’s still the matter of where the money to build a stadium, probably on the order of $1 billion, is going to come from.
Lastly, in an era where regional sports TV networks are collapsing, where is the Las Vegas A’s TV money going to come from? The RSN that covers Vegas — they already carry the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights — is AT&T Sports Rocky Mountain. But that RSN already carries Colorado Rockies games and — oh, wait:
As first reported by Sports Business Journal, AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain is expected to stay in business throughout the 2023 season, then will cease to exist, ending a Rockies run on various iterations of that channel that endured more than two decades.
After the 2023 MLB campaign ends, Warner Brothers Discovery — the parent company of AT&TSN RM — is expected to exit the RSN business.
So there won’t be a plug-in RSN and I don’t see any new RSN coming into that market, which would be the smallest TV market in MLB, currently ranked 40th, two spots below the current smallest MLB market (Milwaukee). Maybe you’ll say, “They can go directly to streaming!” Sure, but that’s not going to create as much revenue for the A’s. Just look at the losses major streaming services have already incurred:
On the whole, major streaming services from Disney (Disney+), NBCUniversal (Peacock), Paramount (Paramount+), and Warner Bros Discovery (HBO Max and Discovery+) have reported total combined losses in excess of $18bn since 2020.
So, in summary:
- The A’s are done with Oakland, but
- Might have to play there for three lame-duck years
- Or in a minor-league park in Las Vegas
- And might not have the sort of TV revenue in Nevada that they have in California
Presuming the A’s pull all this off and have themselves a shiny new stadium in Las Vegas by 2027, that will be the fourth home city for the franchise that began in Philadelphia in 1901. In the Oakland Coliseum, they don’t let you forget that the franchise has won nine World Series titles with a big banner across the facade of the second deck, though the last one was in 1989. That’s the fourth-longest drought of any team (Guardians, 1948, Pirates, 1979 and Orioles, 1983 have longer ones). The A’s have had great success in their 123-year history and also long stretches of being a really bad team, under various ownerships, including 13 years in Kansas City in which they didn’t have a single winning season.
I feel badly for Oakland fans. The A’s have a very loyal fanbase, they drew two million to that ancient ballpark as recently as 2014, but ownership has systematically alienated that fanbase — and torn down the team to the point where it’s going to take quite some time to recover. It’s no better than an expansion team right now.
I wish them luck in their new home. They’re gonna need it.