The Oakland Athletics have signed a binding agreement to buy land for a new retractable roof ballpark in Las Vegas after failing to build a new site in the Bay Area.
Team president Dave Kaval said Wednesday night that the team finalized a deal last week to buy the 49-acre site where the A’s plan to build the stadium near the Strip of Las Vegas with a capacity of 30,000 to 35,000 seats.
The A’s will work with Nevada and Clark County on a public-private partnership to finance the stadium. Kaval said the A’s hope to start next year and expect to move into their new home in 2027.
“Obviously, it’s a very big milestone for us,” Kaval said. “We spent almost two years working in Las Vegas trying to determine a location that would work for a long-term home. Identifying a site and having a purchase agreement is a big step.”
The A’s had been looking for years for a new home to replace the aging and dilapidated Oakland Coliseum, where the team has played since arriving from Kansas City for the 1968 season. They had tried to build stadiums in Fremont and San Jose before of turning their attention to the Oakland waterfront.
Las Vegas would be the fourth home of a franchise that began as the Philadelphia Athletics from 1901 to 1954.
“We are turning our full attention to Las Vegas,” Kaval said. “We were on parallel paths before. But we’re really focused on Las Vegas as a path to finding a future home for the A’s.”
Commissioner Rob Manfred said in December that the A’s would not have to pay a relocation fee if the team moved to Las Vegas.
“We have exceeded any reasonable time frame for the situation in Oakland to be resolved,” Manfred said at the time.
Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao said in a statement to the San Francisco Chronicle that he was disappointed the A’s did not negotiate with the city as a “true partner.”
“The city has gone above and beyond in our attempts to reach mutually beneficial terms to keep the A’s in Oakland,” he said. “Over the past three months, we’ve made significant progress toward closing the deal. However, it’s clear to me that the A’s have no intention of staying in Oakland and have simply used this process to try to get a better deal. Las Vegas I am not interested in continuing to play this game – the fans and our residents deserve better.
“I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve accomplished as a city, including securing a fully-tenured site and more than $375 million in new infrastructure investments that will benefit Oakland and its port for generations to come. In a moment of budget shortfalls, I refuse to compromise the safety and well-being of our residents. With these realities in mind, we are halting negotiations and moving forward on alternatives for the redevelopment of Howard Terminal.”
The A’s would be just the second MLB team to change cities in more than half a century. Since the Washington Senators became the Texas Rangers in 1972, the only team to move was the Montreal Expos, who became the Washington Nationals in 2005.
The A’s lease at the Coliseum expires after the 2024 season. The A’s have struggled to attract fans to the Coliseum in recent years as owner John Fisher has cut payroll and many of its top stars of the team have been exchanged.
Oakland had the lowest Opening Day payroll in baseball at $58 million, less than the combined salaries of Mets pitchers Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, who tied for a season-high $43.3 million major league
Chicago Cubs vs. Oakland Athletics
The team is 3-16 this season and has been outscored by 86 runs, the worst mark in 19 games since 1899. The average attendance in 12 home games this season is 11,027 for the lowest mark of the majors and less than half of the league. average of about 27,800. The A’s haven’t drawn two million home fans since 2014, the only year to reach the mark since 2005.
If the A’s leave Oakland, the city with a rich sports tradition would be without major professional sports teams, as the NFL’s Raiders moved to Las Vegas in 2020 and the NBA’s Warriors moved across the bay to San Francisco in 2019.
“We know it’s a difficult message for our people in Oakland,” Kaval said. “Obviously, we’re grateful for all the hard work that went into the waterfront. But we just couldn’t get the hit or make enough progress.”
Las Vegas has quickly become a sports mecca after years of being considered an outcast due to ties to the gambling industry. With the game legalized across much of the country, the city could now have a baseball team to join the NHL’s Golden Knights, who started as an expansion team in 2017, and the Raiders.
Report from The Associated Press.
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