Oakland A’s set to move to Vegas after MLB owners approve relocation

<span>Photograph: Jeff Chiu/AP</span>
Photograph: Jeff Chiu/AP

The Oakland A’s are set to leave their home of 55 years after MLB owners reportedly approved the team’s move to Las Vegas.

The owner of the A’s, John Fisher, needed the consent of 75% of the owners of the league 30 teams but the vote was reportedly unanimous in his favour, and was endorsed by MLS commissioner Rob Manfred. Fisher has long sought a move away from Oakland after failing to get local government support for a new stadium in the city. Oakland’s NFL team, the Raiders, moved to Vegas at the start of the 2020 season and the city also acquired an NHL franchise, the Golden Knights, in 2017.

Related: Baseball’s last dive bar: Farewell to the crumbling Oakland Coliseum

The A’s proposed stadium will be on the Las Vegas Strip, with $380m in public financing approved by the Nevada government.

The A’s lease at their current home, the Coliseum, expires after the 2024 season and it remains unclear where the team will play before a new ballpark opens, in 2027 at the earliest. Oakland fans staged a “reverse boycott” this season, flocking to the stadium to urge Fisher to sell the team.

Last month, relief pitcher Trevor May launched an extraordinary attack on Fisher during his retirement announcement.

“Sell the team, dude. ... Sell it, man,” he said. “Let someone who actually, like, takes pride in the things they own, own something. There’s actually people who give a shit about the game. Let them do it. Take mommy and daddy’s money [Fisher’s parents founded Gap] somewhere else, dork.”

Las Vegas will become the fourth city for a franchise that played in Philadelphia from 1901-54, moved to Kansas City for 13 seasons and arrived in Oakland for 1968. The new stadium will be the team’s fifth after Columbia Park (1901-08), Shibe Park (1909-54), Memorial Stadium (1955-67) and the Coliseum.

Since the Washington Senators became the Texas Rangers for 1972, the only other team to relocate was the Montreal Expos, who became the Washington Nationals in 2005.

The A’s in 2006 proposed a ballpark in Fremont, about 25 miles south in the East Bay, but abandoned the plan three years later. San Jose, 40 miles south of Oakland, was proposed in 2012, but the San Francisco Giants blocked the site because it was part of that team’s territory. The A’s chose a site in the Oakland area near Laney College only to have it rejected by the college and neighbors, then focused on the Howard Terminal area of Oakland. While some approvals were gained, a financing plan was never reached.

The team announced in April that it had purchased land in Las Vegas, then a month later replaced that location with a deal with Bally’s and Gaming & Leisure Properties to build a stadium on the Tropicana hotel site along the Las Vegas Strip.

Nevada’s Legislature and governor approved public financing for a $1.5bn, 30,000-seat ballpark with a retractable roof that will be close to the Raiders’ Allegiant Stadium, and T-Mobile Arena, the home of the Golden Knights.

While San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose is the 10th-largest television market in the US, Las Vegas is the 40th. Baseball players’ association head Tony Clark last month questioned whether the shift to a smaller city would put the team on a path of needed perpetual assistance under MLB’s revenue-sharing plan.

MLB is able to control city changes because of the sport’s antitrust exemption, granted by a 1922 US Supreme Court decision. In the last half-century, the NFL has seen moves by the Raiders (Oakland to Los Angeles, back to Oakland and then Las Vegas), the Colts (Baltimore to Indianapolis), the Cardinals (St Louis to Phoenix), the Rams (Los Angeles to St. Louis and back to LA), the Oilers (Houston to Nashville) and the Chargers (San Diego to Los Angeles).

The A’s had the lowest payroll in MLB last season and finished with a league-worst record of 50-112.