BFN ROUNDTABLE: MLB Owners Approve A’s Move to Vegas

John Fisher at the MLB press conferecne announcing the owners' vote confirming the A's relocation to Las Vegas.

The Oakland Athletics’ long-expected move to Las Vegas took another step closer last week with the owners of all MLB teams voting unanimously in favour of the A’s relocation to Sin City. 

In addition to our A’s contributor Brett Walker’s thoughts in an article published earlier today, we’ve also gathered another roundtable of several Bat Flips & Nerds contributors, along with father-son A’s fans from the Oakland area, to give their thoughts on only the second MLB team to relocate this century following the Montreal Expos moving to DC to become the Washington Nationals in 2005. 

Gavin Tramps

The move to Las Vegas is inevitable now that the MLB owners have given their unanimous approval. And I, for one (and possibly the only one), am excited about it. 

Thanks to Billy Beane and Moneyball, I will always have a soft spot for the Athletics, so I’m pleased to see them finally get some long-term security. As a baseball fan in the UK, it really doesn’t bother me where they play. 

There is an argument that Las Vegas isn’t a suitable city in comparison to Nashville, Portland or Roy but they only need 10,000 fans each game to exceed the average attendance of the last three seasons. More than 40 million people will visit the Oasis in the Desert this year, and with The Sphere, Allegiant Stadium and a host of other new venues, Vegas continues to grow. 

I obviously feel great sympathy for the Oakland natives, who don’t have a franchise on their doorstep, but this sympathy extends to all cities that have had to bid farewell to teams. All that physical and emotional investment must feel like it has been wasted.  

Obviously, this article is not the platform for whether or not Oakland taxpayers or Las Vegas taxpayers should be paying millions for a new stadium so that the A’s owner can keep his billions while the value of the franchise continues to soar. There are over seven billion people in the world, and only about 1,000 of them have more money than John Fisher. 

Equally, this article is not about whether or not John Fisher should sell the team. Don’t get me started on the lack of moral compass of sports fans when it comes to where ownership’s money comes from as long as it brings success… #NewcastleUnited #ParisStGermain 

So, although I could rant about closed-market capitalism, I am excited to see how this new chapter of A’s baseball unfolds as a neutral baseball fan. 

Bat Flips & Nerds’ editor and webmaster Gavin is a Cincinnati Reds fan, and can be found on Twitter @GavTramps. 

David P. Darlington 

Since every MLB owner voted to side with Fisher and cast off the A’s from Oakland to Las Vegas, Fisher said it was more painful for him than the A’s faithful fans

Seriously, you ain’t seen pain yet, John! 

For starters, you now have to try to win over the Nevada public school teachers who are spear-heading the ‘Schools Over Stadiums’ movement in opposition to the millions in public funding the Nevada State Legislature has approved for the proposed stadium at The Tropicana. 

While we’re talking about the stadium, you’re also going to be building on a smaller parcel of land than what was originally planned, and you still have to convince the banks to fund the rest of the project when the mayor of Oakland, Sheng Thao, put a finance deal on the table for the Howard Terminal site. 

Any new stadium in Las Vegas isn’t going to be ready for another three to four years after the A’s lease on the expires next season too. 

Given your team doesn’t have anywhere to play after next season, good luck working out a deal with the San Francisco Giants to share their stadium and getting their fans to swallow it. I wonder how much they’ll make you pay for that honour. 

Alternatively, you could always have your major league team play in a Triple-A venue that holds less than 10,000 for a few years instead. 

All the best finding TV and radio stations in a much-smaller media market to broadcast the games of the team with the lowest payroll in MLB too, while also enduring the wrath of sports writers in Las Vegas who’ve already said they don’t want the A’s in their city as you continue to trot out another team of players that no one has ever heard of. 

Finally, (and this has been true for a while), remember that all the other MLB players are continuing to give advice to your roster of underpaid players who’ll now have to play half the games in the desert during the summer about all the other good teams and how to get traded or claimed on waivers too. 

Good luck storming the castle, Mr. Fisher! 

David P. Darlington has been an Oakland Athletics fan since moving to the East Bay in the 1970s. 

Ian Darlington 

I was born in Oakland and have been going to games since before I was born. In fact, everyone guessed I would be a girl, except for a ticket taker at an A’s game in the summer of 1984.  I had the chance to see the likes of Ricky Henderson, Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco play, and experienced both the highs of the Moneyball streak and league championships, and the lows of the many ‘rebuilding’ seasons. 

The A’s have always been the ‘cheap and cheerful’ (to use the British phrase) alternative to the Giants’ high prices and payroll. The working man’s team rather than the technocrats’ team. The fans brought a mixture of enthusiasm, fun and a love of baseball (without taking things too seriously) very rare to the majors. I loved and supported the A’s throughout. 

David and Ian Darlington at the (image credit: David P. Darlington)

That changed when Fisher and Kaval took over. They constantly sold the best and most talented players for prospects and cash. It is clear that they don’t love baseball; to them, the A’s are a way to make money. A plaything for those with too much money (the unanimous vote by the MLB owners shows they are included in this), nothing more. Anyone who cared would have changed their approach after so many years of failure. Their decision not to do this indicates an alternative agenda: relocation. 

Al Davis and the Raiders showed how to squeeze taxpayers and politicians. Oakland should have learned from this, but they let Fisher and Kaval do it all over again, this time as Squeeze 2.0. I do not think they were ever set on keeping the A’s in Oakland and only explored this to see if they could get the best deal since staying in Oakland would likely be the easier option compared to moving. 

I’ve continued to attend games and track the A’s standings, but emotionally, I’ve been drifting for the past few years. It’s hard to keep loving a team if you don’t get any love in return. Players aside, the A’s have not loved the fans (see ticket price increases and a continuation of a losing approach to building and developing the team). 

I have spent a lifetime collecting my A’s clothing and have spread my love of the team and game across the US and several countries (including to this site’s Oakland A’s contributor – ed.). When I fly, I always wear my A’s hat. 

The vote by the owners to approve relocation, despite the claims by the city of Oakland that A’s ownership was not serious and a deal could still be had, plus the issues and legal challenges around a move to Las Vegas, was not a surprise but still hurts. Assuming things proceed as they seem to be headed, I’ve decided where my support lies. I will remain a fan of the OAKLAND A’S. The organisation that I’ve seen the last few years is the complete opposite of the team I grew to love in my childhood and the Las Vegas A’s would likely continue in its current approach. 

My heart will stay in Oakland and, if the city gets a new expansion team in the future, I will likely support them (unless I move and find myself living much closer to another team sooner). 

As for what to do now, if the A’s organisation wants to break up with Oakland, Oakland need to throw their sorry asses out of their house. No renewal of the stadium lease. If nothing can be done to save this relationship, why should the city spend any more time or money? With the Raiders, the Warriors and, now, the A’s, the city and fans of Oakland have endured enough heartbreak. It’s time to forget the two-timing exes, hang them out to dry, and look to the future. 

David’s eldest son, Ian, is a lifelong Oakland Athletics fan and now lives in Oregon. 

Darius Austin

It’s disappointing but not surprising that the owners voted to unanimously approve the A’s relocation to Las Vegas. 

Aside from the twisting of the narrative that John Fisher, Dave Kaval and Rob Manfred have all contributed to – for instance, the false notion that Oakland did nothing to help them stay and they have exhausted all possibilities in the area – there are some very real practical considerations that people charged with approving such a move should ostensibly be scrutinising. 

What about the questionable interest from a city which has just this week been the subject of another gross overestimation of demand for a sporting event? What about the fact that Fisher hasn’t actually secured the credit he needs to build the stadium? These are the kind of things that people in charge of approving such a move ought to be heavily scrutinising before any move is approved. It’s all part of that wider picture that suggests this was a fait accompli long before Fisher formally confirmed this move, facts be damned. 

Then there’s the issue of where the A’s will play between their lease running out at the Coliseum at the end of next year and the supposed opening of the new stadium in 2028. As a Giants fan, the notion of the A’s playing some of their home games in Oracle Park makes me intensely uncomfortable. The A’s shouldn’t be leaving Oakland at all, and Fisher ought to be made to reckon with the consequences of his ill-conceived plan to the fullest extent by, among other things, having to figure out which of the suboptimal venues he has to relocate the team for a minimum of three years. Instead, I expect he will once again be given as easy a ride as possible, as he has been by this vote, by his fellow owners and teams. 

Darius Austin is one of the co-founders of Bat Flips & Nerds, co-host of the Bat Flips & Nerds podcast, and can be found on Twitter @DariusA64. 

Jamie Steed 

The A’s move to Las Vegas is not one I like or support. But at this point, it needed to happen. 

Rumours of the move swirling earlier in the year caused A’s fans to stage their ‘reverse boycott’. That contributed to Oakland having an average attendance north of 10,000 for the first time since 2019, when they averaged 20,521 and made the playoffs. Their 10,275 average attendance for home games this year was still the lowest in MLB for the third consecutive season though. 

It became apparent that a new ballpark in Oakland wasn’t going to materialise and, with the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in need of significant modernisation and upgrading, a relocation was inevitable. Without a change in ownership or MLB leadership, the A’s time in Oakland was going to end sooner rather than later and the prior options were never going to happen. 

It’s clear that Las Vegas is becoming the new go-to place for sports, with the NFL’s Raiders relocating there in 2020 and Formula One hosting a Grand Prix there this past weekend. The reason for this interest in Vegas is obviously money as it’s never been a hub of sports enthusiasts. 

The A’s may turn into a tourist attraction following the move and, while it sucks for A’s fans, at the very least it could help generate more interest in MLB. 

Jamie Steed is a New York Yankees fan and fantasy sports writer, and can be found on Twitter @Baseball_Jimbo. 

Featured image – AP Photo/LM Otero

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