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Oakland Athletics Relocation Rumors Heat Up

James Murphy
by in MLB on
The Las Vegas Ballpark in suburban Summerlin is home to the Triple A Las Vegas Aviators
  • Major League Baseball has given the Oakland Athletics permission to look at possible relocation options.
  • The City of Oakland has been dragging their feet on a much needed new stadium for the MLB team.
  • A number of cities are considered relocation candidates with Southern Nevada a clear frontrunner.

It wasn’t that long ago that the prospect of a team in a major professional sports calling Southern Nevada home was ‘slim and none’. There were a myriad of excuses–the term ‘transient population was thrown around quite a bit’–but the real issue was the presence of sports betting in the Silver State. Times have changed completely–the Las Vegas area is home to the NHL Vegas Golden Knights and the NFL Oakland Raiders. The realities surrounding sports betting have also changed with a number of pro sports teams actually getting into the bookmaking business.

Las Vegas could be on the verge of getting a third professional sports team. Major League Baseball has given the Oakland Athletics permission to look at possible relocation options. There are a host of cities that have expressed interest in expansion teams over the past decade including Portland, Oregon; Vancouver, British Columbia; Nashville, Tennessee and Charlotte, North Carolina. Major League Baseball would likely ‘work’ in any of these markets but it would be hard for them to compete with Las Vegas on a number of levels.

The Oakland Athletics are sending a delegation to the Las Vegas Valley this coming week to talk about the possibility of relocation with area officials. While they continue to insist that their preferred option is to stay in Oakland–provided a new stadium is forthcoming–there’s every reason to expect that Las Vegas will make a very compelling case for relocation. There are a variety of reasons that Las Vegas is appealing starting with the fact that it isn’t California. With individuals and businesses leaving California in droves due to high taxes and dysfunctional government the tax situation alone in Nevada is one reason quite a few are ending up in the Silver State. This is no doubt not lost on the Athletics who wouldn’t be looking for a new home were it not for the bumbling efforts of Oakland government officials.

Las Vegas has talked about Major League Baseball for several years now. Several baseball stadium proposals have come and gone, primarily due to the questionable status of a team to play there. Most recently, a MLB stadium was rumored for what is now the Rio Las Vegas casino. As recently as 2019, Southern Nevada flirted with a possible MLB relocation–in this case, it was suburban Henderson trying to attract the Arizona Diamondbacks. That situation was much different from the current situation with the Athletics–Major League Baseball is as frustrated as the team with the lack of progress on a new venue in Oakland. Oakland has already lost two sports teams in recent years with the NBA Golden State Warriors moving to San Francisco and the Raiders moving to Las Vegas. The Athletics are publicly saying that their preference is to stay in Oakland but that’s contingent on a stadium which is far from a ‘sure thing’.

An article in today’s Las Vegas Review-Journal speculated on what a Las Vegas MLB stadium would be like:

With the Oakland Athletics set to visit the Las Vegas Valley this coming week to discuss a possible relocation with area officials, many wonder what a Major League Baseball stadium in the valley would look like.

The first consideration is size. In recent years, baseball stadiums have been built with slightly smaller capacities, which would likely be the case here. An MLB ballpark with 30,000 to 40,000 seats would fit nicely into the city’s professional sports landscape as it would fall in between the Las Vegas Raiders’ 65,000-seat stadium and the Golden Knights’ 18,000-seat arena.

The article gave the examples of the Texas Rangers’ 40,000 seat Globe Life Field and the Atlanta Braves 41,500 seat Truist Park. The Atlanta stadium was of particular interest–it’s located in suburban Cobb County approximately the same distance from downtown as Henderson is from the Las Vegas Strip. There are cases to be made for locating a potential Las Vegas MLB stadium in close proximity to the Strip (similar to the Golden Knights’ T-Mobile Arena and the Raiders’ Allegiant Stadium) as well as putting it in the fast growing suburbs of the valley. Henderson is already home to the Raiders’ practice facility and team offices and also has an AHL hockey franchise–the Henderson Silver Knights– who are expected to move to the under construction Dollar Loan Center arena in 2022.

There’s always the scenario that the Athletics are courting Las Vegas to get more leverage on officials in Oakland. That has happened often enough in professional sports to almost be a cliche but given the exodus of pro sports teams out of Oakland and the growing pro sports scene in Las Vegas this is unlikely to be a smokescreen. Las Vegas has a track record of making things happen and that should be a serious concern to the bloated bureaucracy of Oakland.

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