The Las Vegas sports scene may get surprisingly crowded soon. The city has opened its doors to both the NFL and NHL in recent years, and Major League Baseball could be next. Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred admitted Las Vegas would be an intriguing destination for any team considering relocation, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The only two teams to fit that role are the Oakland Athletics and the Tampa Bay Rays, both of which have struggled to find stadium support recently. The Rays had stadium proposals rejected in 2014, and were given permission to seek sites outside St. Petersburg in 2016.
The Athletics situation has been ongoing for years, but they have yet to find a resolution. Many believe O.co Coliseum is among the worst ballparks in the majors. It’s tough to forget the time raw sewage flooded the stadium in 2013. When the Raiders found a way to leave O.co, the Athletics took it as an opportunity to tell fans they were focused on building a new park in the area soon.
While both teams are eager to get new stadiums, both have expressed a desire to remain in the same area. Out of state relocation to, say, a city like Las Vegas, hasn’t seriously been discussed publicly by either club.
Manfred did mention Vegas could be an interesting spot for an expansion team, but admitted he won’t consider expansion until both the Rays and Athletics situations are solved.
Given that, it’s tough to get all the excited about a team in Vegas any time soon. The Athletics have been battling their stadium issue since long before Manfred took over as commissioner. These issues tend to drag out. It could be several more seasons before either team decides they need to relocate.
On top of that, Manfred has shown a willingness to considered a number of new ideas. He’s implemented some of those, like pitch clocks and the elimination of the intentional walk. Others, like getting rid of the shift and limiting the number of relievers used in a single game, haven’t gained any traction.
One factor working in the city’s favor is the fact that Manfred stance on gambling has shifted. The commissioner told Yahoo Finance in February that the league is “re-examining our stance on gambling. It’s a conversation that’s ongoing with the owners.” He added that baseball could have an “opportunity here for additional legalized sports betting.” That would take away some of the stigma involved with moving a team to Vegas.
Though it’s tough to expect anything to happen quickly, it makes sense that Manfred could consider Vegas as a desirable spot. The city enticed both the NHL and NFL to relocate, so it’s clearly an enticing destination.
With that said, we’ve seen this before. Manfred expresses interest in a new idea that ultimately winds up going nowhere. That makes it tough to know whether he’s actually serious about moving a team to Las Vegas, or whether this is just another wacky suggestion he’s willing to entertain.
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