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Answering A’s opening-day questions: How is relocation process going?

Updated March 28, 2024 - 7:05 pm

The Athletics could hold an opening day at the Oakland Coliseum for the final time on Thursday.

The A’s will host the Cleveland Guardians to kick off their season-opening series in what could serve as a swan song for the team’s longtime stadium.

The club will move into a new ballpark on the Strip in 2028, but its home beyond this season is still being determined. The A’s lease at the Oakland Coliseum expires after the season, and the team is still sorting through options for 2025, 2026, and 2027.

There are a lot of questions regarding the team’s future. With that in mind, here are some answers about the A’s outlook with the MLB season about to begin:

Where do things stand in the relocation process?

Everything appears to be on track.

Owners approved the A’s move to Las Vegas in November. On March 21, the Las Vegas Stadium Authority Board approved the team’s community benefits plan, one of four agreements it needs before construction can begin on its planned $1.5 billion, 33,000-seat stadium.

Renderings for the ballpark, which will be built on 9 acres on the Tropicana site, were released this month.

The Tropicana will close on Tuesday to be demolished. Construction will begin approximately a year later.

However, the A’s move to Las Vegas is not without its challenges. The political action committee Schools Over Stadiums is attempting to challenge the ballpark’s public funding, which is a potential snag in the project. The group’s initial attempt was blocked, but it has appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court. The court will hear oral arguments regarding the decision on April 9, a date that could have significant implications for the stadium’s construction.

Where will the A’s play next season?

There are a few options on the table.

The A’s are talking to Oakland and Alameda County about extending their Coliseum lease beyond this season. The sides are expected to meet again Tuesday.

Other possibilities include the A’s playing in minor league ballparks in Salt Lake City or Sacramento, California. But the Oakland Coliseum is their first choice.

One option that needs to be considered is the Las Vegas Ballpark. The A’s won’t play an entire season in town until their stadium is ready. They plan to host Big League Weekend games at the Ballpark and could even play a regular-season series or two there in the next few years.

What about this season? What are expectations for the A’s?

Low. Like a curveball in the dirt.

The A’s won 50 games last season, the fewest in a season since the Detroit Tigers won 47 in 2019.

The good news is that they can’t get much worse. The bad news is that it will still take many breaks to finish fourth in the American League West, let alone compete for a playoff spot.

The A’s season win total at Station Casinos is 56½, the lowest in MLB. The only other teams, not at least in the 70s, are the Colorado Rockies (59½), Chicago White Sox (61½) and Washington Nationals (67½).

Are there any reasons for optimism?

There sure are if you look at the renderings.

The lowest batting average for an A’s player on the Las Vegas stadium scoreboard is .247, a huge improvement given they hit .223 as a team last season.

Reality is a bit rougher.

The A’s last-ranked pitching staff could make strides after the additions of veterans Alex Wood and Ross Stripling and the emergence of up-and-coming players such as starter J.P. Sears and reliever Mason Miller.

The offense might also pick up if younger hitters such as catcher Shea Langeliers, shortstop Nick Allen, and center fielder Esteury Ruiz show enough progress to complement second baseman Zack Gelof, first baseman Ryan Noda, and 2023 All-Star Brent Rooker.

There’s enough upside to dream of the A’s avoiding the cellar for the second consecutive season. But not much more than that.

Who will still be around by 2028?

The name to know is Gelof.

The 24-year-old appeared in only 69 games as a rookie but was impressive. He showed remarkable power for a second baseman by hitting 14 home runs. Gelof finished with a .840 OPS, 37 percent better than the MLB average.

There are quite a few question marks beyond him.

The A’s will have to see who sticks among the rest of their younger position players. Pitchers are almost impossible to project four years out because of how often they get injured.

Fans should be able to pencil another name or two into their projected 2028 lineup by the end of this season—that’s the hope, at least. And what is opening day about, if not hope?

Contact assistant sports editor Ben Gotz at bgotz@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BenSGotz on X.

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