It is starting to look more and more likely that the Oakland Athletics move to Vegas will happen.
It’s been a rough couple of years on and off the field for the Oakland A’s, making it a big opportunity for the Athletics to move to Las Vegas. But is the Oakland Athletics move to Vegas the best option for the franchise and the best option for baseball?
Oakland Athletics move to Vegas. for and against
Only one MLB franchise has moved in the last 50 years. In 2005, the Montreal Expos moved to become the Washington Nationals.
But other than that, MLB hasn’t moved much in the last half century. That means the Oakland Athletics move to Vegas is a big deal and largely uncharted territory. Let’s look at the team’s potential move from different angles to determine whether or not this is the best option.
A gets a stadium
On the surface, the move to Las Vegas is a big win for the team because of the new athletics stadium in Vegas. The team and the city of Oakland couldn’t agree on a new stadium when the Oakland Coliseum is no longer a viable venue, assuming it was ever there in the first place.
However, the A’s have agreed to purchase land in Las Vegas that will be used to build a $1.5 billion stadium that will seat 30,000 people.
To be fair, 30,000 seats would make it the second-smallest ballpark in most ballparks, bigger only than Tropicana Field, which could hold up longer for the Rays one way or another. But any new stadium is an upgrade to the Oakland Coliseum.
It will also be a stadium built specifically for the A’s, rather than having to play baseball in a football stadium like Oakland has. If the A’s can’t get a new stadium built in Oakland after years of trying, they have every right to move to a city where they can have a new ballpark.
There are also rumors that the A’s could speed up their move to Las Vegas, despite the Oakland Coliseum’s lease not ending until 2025 and their new Vegas stadium not being ready until at least 2027. The A’s might start playing themselves. home games at Las Vegas Ballpark as early as the 2024 season.
On the downside, Las Vegas Ballpark has a capacity of 10,000 fans and a record attendance of just over 12,000. MLB might not like the sight of one of its franchises playing multiple seasons in a stadium built for a triple-A team.
However, the A’s will average 8,000 fans per game through the 2022 season. Things have only gotten worse in 2023 and are unlikely to get better if the A’s become a lame duck in Oakland with an imminent move to Vegas.
In that sense, a 10,000-capacity stadium would at least allow the A’s to improve their attendance. Additionally, the Las Vegas Ballpark just opened in 2019, making it an upgrade to the Oakland Coliseum in that regard. Given the unique situation, playing in a triple-A park for a few years isn’t the worst option and could almost be considered a positive if a new stadium in Oakland isn’t a viable option.
Oakland fans deserve better
On the other side of the coin, sports fans in Oakland deserve much better than the situation they’ve had in recent years. Attendance has sunk to such pitiful depths largely because owner John Fisher has refused to invest in the team’s roster. Obviously, the facilities at the Oakland Coliseum don’t help. But Fisher decided not to spend money to retain the team’s top talent or sign players through free agency.
The result was that Oakland’s top players were traded before free agency hit, or the A’s had no chance to re-sign them in free agency, ultimately leading to a historically bad season in 2023. Of course, fans of such a historically great sport. the city deserves better.
Furthermore, if the A’s can’t get a new stadium and move to Las Vegas, it could be considered the final nail in Oakland’s coffin as a professional sports city. In 2020, Oakland lost to the Las Vegas Raiders. They also saw the Golden State Warriors move from Oakland to San Francisco when the Chase Center opened in 2019. which is a sad reality to face.
Is Las Vegas a major league town?
Another question that must be answered before the A’s move to Vegas can be considered a success is whether Las Vegas can support an MLB franchise. The Raiders have built a nice home there, but only play eight or nine home games a year. Likewise, the NHL’s Las Vegas Golden Knights have had immediate success in Sin City. But they had the benefit of immediate success thanks to the expansion grant project. The Golden Knights have built a healthy fan base on the back of three Stanley Cup Final appearances in six years.
The A’s, on the other hand, will have no such benefit. There is no evidence that Fisher will begin to invest more heavily in the team’s roster once he moves to Las Vegas. That means Vegas could be getting one of the worst teams in baseball and will be expected to back them like a penny pincher. Additionally, the A’s will play 81 home games per season, 10 times more than the Raiders’ most back-to-back games, and nearly double the Golden Knights’ home games.
In the long run, the A’s will be able to draw bigger crowds with a losing team and hot Las Vegas summers in their new home than they are now. Granted, fans of the visiting team will help contribute because Las Vegas is a tourist destination.
But filling the stands with tourists isn’t the same as having a supportive, homegrown fan base. In general, it’s never a good sign for a franchise to rely on visiting fans to backseat, which is a constant concern in Las Vegas.
MLB expansion can continue
Of course, MLB would definitely support the A’s moving to Vegas. The league has begun accepting sports betting as a wave of states have legalized it in recent years, and it appears to have its heart set on the team landing in Vegas.
If the A’s don’t move there, there’s a good chance a future expansion team will be based in Sin City. Of course, if the A’s end up in Vegas, several other MLB expansion ideas could be explored.
In fact, MLB is waiting for the A’s and Rays to fix their stadium issues before getting serious about expansion. The sooner the A’s settle in Vegas, the sooner MLB can expand to 32 teams.
Honestly, there is no clear yes or no answer when it comes to moving athletics to Las Vegas. Oakland has been a great baseball town in the past and can certainly be again.
The same cannot be said for Las Vegas, which has its advantages but is far from certain. However, the A’s need two things right now: a new ballpark and an owner who will invest in fielding a competitive team. If the A’s have to move to Las Vegas to get one of those things, it’s best for the franchise right now.