- Major League Baseball has given the Oakland Athletics permission to look at markets for possible relocation.
- The team has been trying to get a new ballpark built in Oakland but the process is mired in delays and red tape.
- Las Vegas is being mentioned as the most likely destination should the team leave Oakland.
Last year, the former Oakland Raiders began play in their new home of Las Vegas, Nevada. They might soon have company and Southern Nevada might soon have another professional sports team. Major League Baseball (MLB) has given the Oakland Athletics permission to explore the possibility of relocating. One of the most likely destinations is Las Vegas.
At the center of the situation is decrepit Oakland Stadium. It’s now known as RingCentral Stadium but the presence of a naming sponsor doesn’t negate the fact that it isn’t a long term option for a Major League Baseball team. The Athletics have been trying to get a new waterfront ballpark built but have run into an endless series of delays and red tape. The city claims they’re interested in keeping the team in Oakland with a new stadium but their actions aren’t exactly a compelling argument for that position.
Oakland has made losing professional sports teams to other cities an art form. The Golden State Warriors moved from Oakland to the Chase Center in San Francisco in 2019. The Raiders bolted for Las Vegas last year due in large part to the untenable status of the stadium. Oakland had long ago lost a NHL hockey team–the California Golden Seals moved to Cleveland in 1976 and folded in 1978.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf released a statement in which she expressed urgency over the situation but offered no new ideas to facilitate a new stadium:
“We share MLB’s sense of urgency and their continued preference for Oakland. Today’s statement makes clear that the only viable path to keeping the A’s rooted in Oakland is a ballpark on the waterfront.”
Anything Oakland does might be ‘too little too late’. Even assuming that the stadium could quickly get the necessary approvals from Oakland City Council it wouldn’t be ready until 2027. The A’s lease with RingCentral Stadium runs through 2024. That was a central theme of the statement released by Major League Baseball:
“MLB is concerned with the rate of progress on the A’s new ballpark effort with local officials and other stakeholders in Oakland. The A’s have worked very hard to advance a new ballpark in downtown Oakland for the last four years, investing significant resources while facing multiple roadblocks. We know they remain deeply committed to succeeding in Oakland, and with two other sports franchises recently leaving the community, their commitment to Oakland is now more important than ever.”
“The Oakland Coliseum site is not a viable option for the future vision of baseball. We have instructed the Athletics to begin to explore other markets while they continue to pursue a waterfront ballpark in Oakland. The Athletics need a new ballpark to remain competitive, so it is now in our best interest to also consider other markets.”
Although Las Vegas is the most likely destination the ‘party line’ of MLB is that other cities are also in play. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has in the past mentioned Portland, Oregon; Vancouver, British Columbia; Nashville, Tennessee; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Montreal as potential expansion sites for franchises. It’s doubtful that any of these cities would be as appealing as Las Vegas–particularly given the success of the relocated Raiders and the NHL Vegas Golden Knights.