A wild Wednesday night of developments loaded the bases for the Oakland A’s to move to Las Vegas, as the A’s organization bought land for a stadium, Major League Baseball blessed the deal, and Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao declared she was done negotiating with team executives.
The Oakland A’s have been flashing signs that they want to relocate to Las Vegas for years, but several things happened in a two-hour span Wednesday night that sure make it look like a lock that the A’s are definitely moving to Vegas, and their negotiations with the city of Oakland are now officially kaput.
You’ll recall the team has been working on a Howard Terminal stadium deal, their umpteenth new stadium plan dating back at least 20 years. But the Chronicle reports on a rapid-fire succession of Wednesday night events indicating the A’s are definitely relocating: the A’s organization bought a parcel of land in Las Vegas, Major League Baseball came out and officially endorsed the A's to Las Vegas move, and Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao said the city was done negotiating to keep the A’s. The end result, as New York Times reports, is that the A’s “hoped to be playing games in a new, billion-dollar retractable roof stadium on the [Las Vegas] site by 2027.”
Here’s the Vegas site the A’s entered into a binding purchase agreement with in relation to Allegiant Stadium and T-Mobile Arena. https://t.co/u8wXAub1bU#vegas #oakland #athletics #mlb pic.twitter.com/vR1rA3T12z— Mick Akers (@mickakers) April 20, 2023
At 9:30 p.m. Wednesday night, the Las Vegas Review-Journal broke word that the A’s had signed a deal to buy a 39-acre plot of land (seen above). “If all goes as planned and the A’s negotiate a public-private partnership that benefits all sides, and MLB approves their relocation, plans call for crews to break ground on the new Las Vegas ballpark sometime in 2024,” the Review-Journal reported. A’s president Dave Kaval added his goal was “Opening for the 2027 season.”
Within an hour, the A’s made it official with a statement. “The A’s have signed a binding agreement to purchase land for a future ballpark in Las Vegas,” the statement said. “We realize this is a difficult day for our Oakland fans and community.”
By then, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred had already provided a separate statement to the Review-Journal fully blessing the deal. “We support the A’s turning their focus on Las Vegas and look forward to them bringing finality to this process by the end of the year,” Manfred’s statement said.
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
Shortly before 10 p.m., KTVU reports that Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao put out a statement saying she was done with the A’s. "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,” Thao’s statement said. “It is clear to me that the A’s have no intention of staying in Oakland and have simply been using this [Howard Terminal] process to try to extract a better deal out of Las Vegas. I am not interested in continuing to play that game — the fans and our residents deserve better.”
They did for the Raiders for as long as it took to complete Allegiant. Why? Oakland wouldn't have gotten that rent money any other way. https://t.co/HDP6XtQHKp— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) April 20, 2023
Still, this raises the specter that the A’s will have no choice but to keep playing in Oakland, essentially as a zombie team in a notoriously dilapidated stadium, for the next four years until the Las Vegas stadium is finished. There's a sense among fans that the A’s are fielding an intentionally terrible team (current record 3-16, worst in the Big Leagues), and that status quo could continue here for four more years. Remember, the Raiders zombie-teamed it at the very same stadium during their final year in Oakland.
Not that I’d expect the A’s to do anything right these days but letting this news leak at 10:30 at night before the team goes out of town for a week is crap— William Boor (@wboor) April 20, 2023
And, as everyone is discussing, assuming this is a done deal, this means Oakland will have lost three major professional sports teams in the span of five years after the departure of the Warriors to San Francisco in 2019, and the departure of the Raiders to Vegas the following year.
Las Vegas, which just six years ago had zero professional sports teams, would now become home to an NHL team (the Vegas Golden Knights), an NFL team, an MLB team, and a WNBA team (the Las Vegas Aces).
But to borrow the name of a famous pitcher, the A’s have been catfished by other locations before. Remember when they were all but certain to move to San Jose (2013)? Remember when, just as they did Wednesday night, the A’s announced they’d bought the land to move to Fremont (2006)? By my count, this is at least the ninth different stadium move the A’s have attempted since 2002, none of which has panned out. And considering the state of the commercial real estate and construction markets, there is a not-zero possibility that this A's-to-Las-Vegas relocation will crap out too.
Image: OAKLAND, CA - JULY 22: General view of the Oakland Athletics logos in the dugout before the game against the San Francisco Giants at the Oakland Coliseum on July 22, 2018 in Oakland, California. The Oakland Athletics defeated the San Francisco Giants 6-5 in 10 innings. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)