The MLB owners have officially rubber stamped the Oakland Athletics' relocation efforts, voting unanimously to allow John Fisher to move forward with the move to Las Vegas. It was always unlikely that this vote would result in anything but a 30-0 result, but it’s still an unfortunate outcome for A’s fans and the city of Oakland who have been fighting for years to keep their team.
The next steps for Fisher and company are to put together a ballpark design and finalize the public and private financing for the project. If that seems backwards, it’s because it is backwards. The ballpark renderings that Fisher and team President Dave Kaval revealed to the Nevada legislature back in May of this year are obsolete. At this point, the A’s do not have any official updated renderings, nor have they explained how their ballpark will fit on the 9-acre Tropicana Hotel site in Las Vegas.
There is still the outstanding question about public financing. Schools Over Stadiums, a Nevada political action committee, is fighting to rescind the $380 million in taxpayer money that’s currently allocated to the project.
Though the A’s won the most recent court battle with Schools Over Stadiums, the decision was handed down largely due to technicalities in the language of the claim. Schools Over Stadiums is still fighting to invoke a ballot initiative that would allow the Nevada taxpayers to decide for themselves whether they want their hard-earned money to be gifted to Fisher and the A’s.
Despite the unanimous vote, questions about relocation remain
The other major unanswered question is where the A’s will play baseball during the time between when their lease at the Coliseum runs out after the 2024 season, and when they’d be able to play in their new Las Vegas home, currently suggested as the 2028 season.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported this morning that the A’s would play in a combination of ballparks, including Oracle Park in San Francisco and the Triple-A Las Vegas Aviators' ballpark in Summerlin, Nevada.
For one, the Giants would seemingly be in a position where they’d hope to earn the respect of A’s fans after Fisher rips the team out of the city, so it’s unclear why they’d want to help the A’s and risk losing any potential goodwill.
Second is the issue that the Aviators stadium is not built to house an MLB team. It’s difficult to imagine that the players union would sign off on playing a significant number of games in a stadium without the amenities normally given to professional ballplayers. There’s also the issue of playing in an open-air stadium in the middle of the Las Vegas summer, plus the fact that its 10,000-seat capacity is nowhere near large enough to house MLB games.
Despite what has been reported by a few prominent MLB reporters, this is not the final step in the A’s relocation. There are still hurdles that need to be cleared before Fisher is successful in the destruction of a once-beloved franchise. It's a blow to A's fans everywhere, but the fight isn't over.