Why the Oakland A’s Relocation May Leave Them without a Home Stadium for 3 Years

An aerial view of the Las Vegas Aviator’s stadium, Las Vegas Ballpark (Credit Las Vegas Ballpark)

An aerial view of the Las Vegas Aviator’s stadium, Las Vegas Ballpark (Credit Las Vegas Ballpark)

Roderick Cassidy, Editorial Board

The Oakland Athletics, the third major sports team to leave Oakland in the past 5 years, has announced their intention to purchase a 49-acre plot of land in Las Vegas, with the hopes of building their own baseball stadium. Now, as a professional sports organization, they surely have been able to follow in the footsteps of the former-Oakland Warriors and Raider to ensure a smooth relocation process, right? Surely, having learned from the experiences of others, their stadium will be complete by the time their current stadium deal expires, right? Along with the many financial issues which will invariably arise from the Athletic’s relocation, there’s one primary issue all professional sports teams should need to address in a timely manner: playing space. This is where the A’s may run into some trouble.

Having sold a large portion of their star players, the Oakland A’s estimated team payroll for 2023 will be $59 million USD. To give proper scale, the Yankees, who are currently projected to have a $273 million USD payroll, have a current salary payroll more than 4.5 times that of the Athletics’ organization. Through the MLB’s current Revenue Sharing program, where all MLB teams pool 48% of their revenue and equally distributes it between all MLB organizations, the current heads of the A’s organization (primarily owner John Fisher) expect the team to receive $110 million dollars a year, allowing them and others to profit off of such a program. Without needing to sell tickets in order to receive such payments, the Oakland A’s have recorded historically low attendance rates; last year having an average attendance of under 10,000 per game. Along with abominable attendance, at the time of writing this article, the Oakland A’s are currently on pace to “beat” the 1962 New York Mets to have the statistically worst losing season ever, needing to pass the mark of 40-120, winning only a quarter of their games.

In their current playing ground, the Coliseum, the A’s have a contract which will expire in 2024. If this lease is not renewed, the team could find themselves homeless. An extension of the Coliseum contract until their new stadium in Las Vegas is fully built in 2027 is possible, but the mayor of Oakland has expressed a lack of support for this. While attempting to negotiate a deal to build a new stadium within Oakland, the Athletics went ahead and purchased the aforementioned 49-acre plot of land in Las Vegas, mid-negotiations. With the mayor of Oakland, Mayor Sheng Thao, angrily stating that the city of “Oakland is not interested in being used as leverage with the A’s negotiations,” the possibility of the Athletics receiving an extension at their current Coliseum lease is, as of this moment, unlikely.

An important detail to note is that the Athletic’s Triple-A affiliate, the Las Vegas Aviators, already have a stadium facility which could theoretically house their main team’s games. The use of the minor team’s stadium may be particularly suitable as well, since the stadium’s 10,000 seating capacity would fit perfectly with the A’s below 10,000 per game attendance during the 2022 season. There could be an issue with sharing the stadium with their minor league counterpart however, because the Aviators still need to play a full schedule at their home stadium.  So, although the Aviator’s stadium may be a perfect fit for the A’s, unless details regarding the potential relocation and competing schedules of the two teams are already ironed out, the odds of such a move may be slim.

Although it is currently speculated that the Athletics could use their AAA counterpart’s stadium until further notice, if both the current stadium and the minor league stadium fall through, what would happen to the Oakland A’s? Would MLB have to intervene, lending them a temporary playing space? Could all home games simply be removed from the Athletics’ schedule? Would A’s shrinking fan base tolerate having no home stadium? We can only wait and see what plays the Athletics make —  on and off the field.

See here, the Oakland Athletics players and coach, who will soon be relocating to Las Vegas. (Credit Reuters)