Athletics' Las Vegas relocation approved by MLB owners originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area
MLB owners on Thursday morning voted unanimously to approve the Athletics' relocation from Oakland to Las Vegas, the team confirmed.
The vote took place at the MLB owners meetings in Arlington, Texas.
A's owner John Fisher shared a statement after the vote, thanking owners and commissioner Rob Manfred for their part in the ongoing relocation process.
“I want to express my gratitude to the owners and Commissioner for their thoughtful deliberation and positive votes in favor of our relocation to Las Vegas.
"Today marks a significant moment for our franchise, and it’s met with mixed emotions - sadness for this change and excitement for our future. I know this is a hard day for our fans in Oakland. We made sincere efforts to keep our team in Oakland, but unfortunately, it did not work out. I am grateful to the fans who have supported our team throughout the years and the home Oakland provided. The storied history of our franchise includes three cities over the past century: Oakland, along with Kansas City and Philadelphia, will always be part of this franchise’s DNA.
"We are excited to begin this next chapter in Las Vegas. I want to thank the Las Vegas and Nevada community for welcoming us. We will continue to work hard to bring home more championships for our fans and for our new home in Vegas.”
Fisher also sent a lengthy letter to A's fans.
A’s owner John Fisher has released a letter to fans. I hear renderings are still not expected for a little while. pic.twitter.com/sVCbBuqc1O
— Casey Pratt (@CaseyPrattABC7) November 16, 2023
While the owners have approved Fisher's bid to move the A's to Las Vegas, hurdles remain before the franchise can officially call Sin City home.
As the San Jose Mercury News' Jason Mastrodonato reported earlier this week, the A's still need to check several boxes, including securing approval of a stadium operating agreement and a non-relocation agreement with Las Vegas, a construction agreement, a private financing plan and new renderings for the proposed Las Vegas ballpark after the initial design was deemed insufficient.
“It’s the next step,” former Florida Marlins and Montreal Expos team president David Samson told Mastrodonato. “It’s a step. It’s not the final step. Even with a relocation approval vote, that doesn’t mean Oakland is losing its team.
“What they will approve is for the A’s to relocate to Las Vegas. But that’s not baseball approving the finished documents.”
Samson was involved in the relocation attempts by both the Marlins and Expos, so he's well aware of the challenges that still face Fisher and the A's.
Additionally, Schools Over Stadiums, a group of Nevada teachers is attempting to block the the A's from receiving $380 million in public funding for a proposed ballpark by trying to put the measure on the November 2024 election ballot.
For now, the A's have one more season remaining on their Oakland Coliseum lease. After that, it's unclear where they will play until their proposed Las Vegas ballpark is ready, presumably in 2028.
Per USA Today's Bob Nightengale, citing one MLB owner on the conditions of anonymity before commissioner Rob Manfred hasn't publicly addressed it, the A's have told the league that they plan to play in several locations until their Las Vegas ballpark opens, including the Giants' Oracle Park, the Las Vegas Aviators' minor-league ballpark in Summerlin, Nev., and potentially even the Oakland Coliseum.
The Athletic's Evan Drellich, however, reported that "nothing was decided" on where the A's will play while their stadium is being built.
Nothing was decided today as to where A's play in 2025-27, sources said. Possibilities include staying at the Oakland Coliseum, going to Triple-A Sacramento's stadium, among others. (Oakland mayor Sheng Thao has made clear there would be conditions to staying at the Coliseum)
— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) November 16, 2023
The vote by MLB owners comes two days after Fisher encountered three A's fans at the annual meetings in Arlington, Texas and per Nightengale, explained to them why this move was happening.
"Fisher shook his head, told the group that he has been trying to find a solution to stay in the Bay Area for 18 years, but his patience has run out," Nightengale wrote. "Come on, even if everything suddenly went smooth with government officials and the city council and financing, the A’s wouldn’t have a ballpark until 2031."
“It’s been a lot worse for me than you,’’ Fisher told the fans, per Nightengale. “Anyway, I just want to let you know I appreciate you guys being here, I appreciate the passion you have shown.’’
A's fans have done everything in their power to try to keep the team in Oakland, including holding reverse boycotts to fill up the Coliseum even as Fisher had marquee players traded away for prospect packages.
If the A's indeed move to Las Vegas, it will be the third relocation in franchise history. Originally residing in Philadelphia, the A's moved to Kansas City in 1955 before moving to Oakland 13 years later.
The last MLB relocation came in 2005 when the Expos moved to Washington and became the Nationals.