A’s Aiming to Become the new Kings of Sacramento

After months of murmurings, yesterday saw the official announcement from both the Oakland Athletics and MLB that the Athletics will be leaving Oakland and the Coliseum at the end of the 2024 season ahead of the team’s move to Las Vegas. 

While the new stadium in Sin City is built, the A’s will instead play at Sutter Health Park, home to the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats.

In many ways, it is a curious move, as logic dictated that, if the A’s were going to move to a Triple-A stadium while its new stadium was being built in Las Vegas, it would make sense to move to the Las Vegas Ballpark, particularly as the Las Vegas Aviators are the Athletics’ Triple-A affiliate and the Aviators’ owner, Don Logan, has been vocal in wanting to bring major league baseball to The Entertainment Capital of the World

In some regards, the move to Sacramento rather than Las Vegas does make sense though. As the Associated Press and CBS Sports both astutely highlighted in its reporting of the move, by remaining in Northern California, the A’s may be able to retain a large share of the revenue from the local television rights currently held by NBC Sports California.

In addition, Sutter Health Park can hold 14,014 fans while Las Vegas Ballpark only has a maximum capacity of 10,000. Therefore, while I personally doubt the A’s would ever fill Sutter Health Park, the opportunity for increased gate receipts over the Las Vegas Ballpark is there. 

The move to Sacramento does keep the A’s in Northern California for at least three more seasons too, with the option of the Athletics continuing to play in Sacramento in 2028. While this may be no comfort to a lot of A’s fans who wanted the team to remain in Oakland (including me), it will make it easier in the interim for those fans who still want to support the team and attend games to do so, as Sacramento is approximately 80 miles from Oakland as opposed to the 400 mile distance between Oakland and Las Vegas. 

Excellent segment from the local CBS New Bay Area affiliate

From a purely capitalist point of view, credit should also go to the owner of the Sacramento River Cats, Vivek Ranadive, for making the deal with John Fisher and the A’s organisation. Ranadive is also the owner of the only major American sport league team in Sacramento – the NBA’s Sacramento Kings – who play in an arena next to Sutter Health Park. Therefore, not only has Ranadive brought an additional revenue stream to his ballpark, which will be playing host to both MLB and Triple-A baseball between 20025-27, but he should also bring some additional attention to a NBA team that plays in one of the NBA’s smallest media markets

In terms of capitalist concerns, my primary concern would be with the stadium staff, vendors and the wider Oakland business community though, all of whom surely were hoping that the A’s would continue to play at the Coliseum while the ballpark in Las Vegas was being built. All of these people will now have to find new job opportunities or revenue streams in October to replace those that will be lost now the Athletics are definitely leaving, particularly given that Oakland’s other major league sports teams, the NBA’s Golden State Warriors and the NFL’s Raiders, have also left The Town in the last five years too. And this doesn’t even mention the many community groups and charities in and around Oakland that the A’s have supported over the years as well. 

Finally, in the organisation’s announcement of the move to Sacramento, it said that it will “honor and celebrate our time in Oakland”. I sincerely hope that this is done in a fan-friendly way then, as it can’t be said that any of the relocation process thus far has had the fans at its heart. 

For now though, I will continue to support the OAKLAND Athletics while I still can. 

Brett Walker is the Oakland Athletics contributor for Bat Flips & Nerds, and can be found on Twitter @BrettChatsSport.

Featured image – Hector Amezcua/The Sacramento Bee

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