Updated November 15, 2023 - 7:15 pm
The Oakland Athletics are expected to learn the fate of their franchise this week, with MLB owners scheduled to vote on the team’s planned Las Vegas relocation.
The owners meetings began Tuesday and end Thursday in Arlington, Texas. The A’s need 75 percent of the 3o owners to vote in favor of their move to Southern Nevada. Commissioner Rob Manfred is scheduled to speak with media Thursday morning, when the results of the vote are likely to be announced.
A relocation committee was formed by MLB, which included Milwaukee Brewers chairman Mark Attanasio, Kansas City Royals CEO John Sherman and Philadelphia Phillies CEO John Middleton. The committee has been meeting regularly the past several weeks, reviewing the A’s relocation application.
The vote would center on the A’s moving to Las Vegas and building a $1.5 billion, 33,000-seat ballpark on 9 acres of the 35-acre Tropicana site.
Gov. Joe Lombardo signed Senate Bill 1 into law during the summer that provides up to $380 million in public funding toward the ballpark. The A’s would be on the hook to finance the rest of the cost.
A’s owner John Fisher said in August he was confident he could secure the needed funding to build the Las Vegas stadium.
“We have a very good financial plan in place,” Fisher said. “We’ve been working very closely with Goldman Sachs, and my family as well, as indicated, is planning to invest a substantial amount.”
The A’s and Oakland officials had been working for years trying to get a new ballpark in the Bay Area. In May 2021, Manfred gave the A’s permission to research relocation options. The A’s have since focused their efforts on Las Vegas.
Oakland urges A’s to stay
After a season of low attendance turnout amid the team’s relocation search, Oakland officials and fans urged the team to stay in Oakland last week. A fan group and Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao sent owners specialty “Stay” boxes that they hope will sway some of them to vote against the relocation to Las Vegas.
Thao also sent letters to owners outlining what the city has done to try to get a new ballpark in Oakland.
The mayor noted that the city had procured $428 million in public funding for off-site infrastructure work, on top of about $500 million the city and Alameda County were ready to contribute to on-site infrastructure at the Port of Howard Terminal.
Thao also highlighted the team’s faithful fan base as another major reason to keep the team located in the Bay Area.
“There is a passionate fan base here in Oakland ready to support the team with renewed commitment to stay in town,” Thao wrote. “As an MLB owner, you know better than anyone that the fans are the lifeblood of MLB. You have no doubt seen the passion of the Oakland fan base this season. From self-organized “reverse boycotts,” to fan-funded giveaways, to public protests in ballparks throughout the country, these fans have been doing everything they can to save their beloved team. This is a fan base that most owners would love to have supporting their team.”
If at least 23 owners vote in favor of the A’s relocation to Las Vegas, there are still several steps needed before it’s official.
The A’s would need to enter into agreements with the Las Vegas Stadium Authority on their planned ballpark. As was the case with the Raiders and their 2020 relocation, the A’s will need to enter into development, non-relocation, community benefits and lease agreements.
The two sides began that process last month with the stadium authority with preliminary drafts of some of those agreements.
With the Raiders’ process serving as a blueprint for the proceedings, stadium authority chairman Steve Hill anticipates the A’s process should move at a quicker pace.
Bally’s Corp, which owns the Tropicana, would need to demolish the hotel-casino to make way for the ballpark. Early indication is it will begin in late 2024, with construction on the ballpark planned to start in April 2025. That would set up the stadium to be substantially completed in January 2028 before the start of the season.
Where to play?
The A’s are locked in to play at Oakland Coliseum for the 2024 season, but their future home is still a mystery beyond that.
A temporary home while the A’s Las Vegas stadium is being built will be needed, with the team noting there were three options from 2025 to 2028.
Making the move to Las Vegas and playing at their Triple-A affiliate — the Aviators’ Las Vegas Ballpark — is one option. Extending their lease with Oakland at the coliseum or sharing Oracle Field across the bay with the San Francisco Giants is the other.
Fisher said that decision would largely be influenced by MLB and the players association.