A few days have passed since the MLB owners voted to approve the Oakland Athletics' move to Las Vegas and there’s been some time to digest the situation a bit more. I want to work through some thoughts I have.
The main feeling is obviously frustration. The lack of public information about the ballpark details is disheartening. John Fisher has reportedly submitted a ballpark and private financing plan ($) to Rob Manfred and the owners’ relocation committee.
It’s not expected that the financing plan would be made fully public, but the fact that we don’t have any up-to-date renderings or vision for the ballpark in Vegas seems deeply strange. I have no doubt that they submitted something, but it’s unclear why they wouldn’t make that information publicly available.
The passing of Padres owner Peter Seidler is sad and unfortunate. We recently learned that Seidler was one of the main voices leading a small group of owners who had been discussing voting no on the Athletics’ relocation.
It’s unclear what Seidler’s motivations may have been, but he seems to have understood the impact of keeping the A’s in Oakland and seemingly had the guts to stand up and say something about it.
After his passing early last week, Rob Manfred apparently rallied the other dissenting owners to vote yes to approve the move. Whether they felt strongly about the decision is unknown.
It was expected by many that the vote would always result in a 30-0 victory for Fisher, if only to make the owners appear united in their mission. Any dissent would have been hashed out ahead of time but when it counted, they would all vote together.
It will be interesting to see if any additional information about the other owners who had questions and concerns about the relocation will surface in the next few weeks and months.
John Fisher's public comments were extremely disappointing
John Fisher’s comments last week, where he talked about the move being harder on him than it has been for the fans is as wildly a disconnected statement that any of us have ever heard.
Casey Pratt of ABC7 has been covering the team since 2005, and he mentioned that Fisher’s press conference last week was the first time Pratt had ever heard the A’s owner speak publicly.
Having dodged and eluded every question and interview request for nearly 20 years, Fisher playing the victim card here is astounding. It’s incredibly frustrating that they haven’t been willing or able to work out a new ballpark in Oakland, given that he’s been angling for it the entire time he’s owned the team.
Everything Fisher has done has been in an effort to achieve what he is currently striving for – to find a new ballpark outside of the Bay area, and to have a television market to call his own. Sharing the Bay with the Giants is clearly not, and never has been, good enough for him and his bottom line.
Never mind the fact that Las Vegas will be far and away the smallest market in MLB, nor the obvious differences between MLB and the NHL and NFL that point to the A’s struggling to draw crowds to a new park.
It’s possible that a great MLB team could work in Las Vegas. This one, with this owner, who openly doesn’t care about the product on the field and isn’t willing to invest in any area of the business, is a terrible choice for that market.
They’re going to rely heavily on tourism to fill the stands in Vegas, and when the A’s are inevitably a bad baseball team that refuses to spend money on payroll, well…we’ll see how the fans react.
This rant is already too long but I’m still incredibly interested to see how the A’s and the league handle the A’s ballpark situation between 2025-2027, after the lease runs out at the Coliseum.
Will MLB try to force the city to play ball, or will the Giants cave in and allow the A’s to play at Oracle Park? There are no other realistic options that would allow Fisher to keep receiving his local television money, which amounts to roughly $60 million per year.
If Fisher is, like he claims to be, tens of millions in the red every year already, then how does he withstand an additional $60 million revenue cut? If baseball were really a losing business, the obvious answer would be to sell the team, which would demand a hefty price tag. Fisher could cash in and walk away.
Why doesn’t he? Because he’s making money hand over fist, and because being a professional sports owner allows a person a significant amount of power. And that’s all Fisher is. A greedy, power-hungry snake who doesn’t care about A’s fans or the Oakland community. He cares about money. No more, no less. It’s an unfortunate reality that won’t change until a new owner or a new franchise comes to town.