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Oakland Athletics set for Las Vegas switch after buying land for new ‘US$1.5bn’ ballpark

MLB franchise become latest to leave Bay Area with plans for 35,000-seater venue in Nevada.

21 April 2023 Josh Sim

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  • A’s have played at Oakland Coliseum since 1968
  • Vegas ballpark set to open for 2027 season
  • Franchise becomes just the second MLB team to relocate in more than 50 years

Major League Baseball’s (MLB) Oakland Athletics have signed a binding agreement to buy 49 acres of land for a new ballpark in Las Vegas.

The franchise has long been searching for a new venue to replace the outdated Oakland Coliseum, where the A’s have played their home games since moving from Kansas City in 1968. They had previously considered sites in Fremont and San Jose, before more recently looking at a possible stadium near the Oakland waterfront.

With progrss on a new venue in Oakland stalling, in 2021 MLB gave the A’s permission to explore relocation options elsewhere, with Las Vegas emerging as a strong alternative. The signed purchase agreement for the site in Las Vegas has now ended any chance of the team staying in Oakland, meaning Las Vegas now becomes the A’s fourth home city in their history.

“We know this is a really difficult day for our fans in Oakland and the Oakland community,” Dave Kaval, said A’s team president.

“We put an incredible six-year effort into trying to get this waterfront vision for a stadium approved. At the end of the day, the progress has not been fast enough. We’re still maybe seven or eight years away from being even able to open a stadium [in Oakland] with the lawsuits and referendums and timing challenges.

“We have a pact in Las Vegas that we think can work and has the support from the league, so we are really putting all our focus in Las Vegas and the efforts there.”

Kaval told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that a 35,000-seater stadium, with a partially retractable roof, will cost about US$1.5 billion to build on the site. Further developments, such as restaurants and an amphitheater, are also being discussed. The A’s will now work with Nevada and Clark County to finalise a public/private relationship to determine the ballpark’s funding, with Kaval hoping to begin construction next year ahead of its completion before the 2027 season.

“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,” said MLB commissioner Rob Manfred.

The A’s become the just second MLB team to relocate in more than 50 years, with the Montreal Expos the only team to move when they became the Washington Nationals in 2005.

Oakland mayor Sheng Thao shared her disappointment at the A’s announcement, saying the city ‘had gone above and beyond’ to keep the franchise in California.

‘The city has gone above and beyond in our attempts to arrive at mutually beneficial terms to keep the A’s in Oakland,’ she said in a statement. ‘In the last three months, we’ve made significant strides to close the deal.

‘Yet it is clear to me that the A’s have no intention of staying in Oakland and have simply been using this 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.’

SportsPro says…

Oakland has been the victim of what the US major leagues see as too slow a process when it comes to supporting the development of new sports venues, with Nevada the main beneficiary. First, the now Las Vegas Raiders left the Coliseum after failing to get a deal with local authorities and now, belatedly, the A’s have reached the same conclusion.

There will be blame placed on all sides as to how a city has gone from housing three major sports teams (the Golden State Warriors also moved from Oakland’s Oracle Arena to the Chase Center in San Francisco in 2019) to none, but there is certainly a feeling that both the National Football League (NFL) and MLB were more than happy for their franchises to up-sticks for Vegas.

For the Sin City, the addition of an MLB franchise is the latest feather in the cap of what has rapidly become a major sports destination. Vegas now has teams in the NFL, NHL and MLB, as well as the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). Later this year Formula One returns to Vegas too, with all of these developments happening in the last six years.

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