Las Vegas A’s: The 1st shoe in MLB’s relocation puzzle just dropped

Apr 20, 2023, 1:26 PM

FILE: The Oakland Athletics play the Texas Rangers at a nearly empty RingCentral Coliseum on May 26...

FILE: The Oakland Athletics play the Texas Rangers at a nearly empty RingCentral Coliseum on May 26, 2022 in Oakland, California. Attendance at Oakland Athletics baseball games have dwindled to historic lows as the team has traded away fan favorite players and continues to explore moving the team to Las Vegas if they can't reach a deal to build a new stadium near the Port of Oakland. The Athletics have the lowest attendance of all 30 Major League Baseball (MLB) as well as the league's lowest single game attendance for a May 2nd game that only drew 2,488 fans. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — After widespread speculation, it appears the Oakland Athletics are headed to Sin City, potentially tying up one of two loose ends before MLB considers Salt Lake City’s expansion case.

The Nevada Independent broke the news Wednesday night that the A’s were “closing in on a binding agreement” to construct a 30,000-to-35,000-seat stadium near Tropicana Boulevard and Interstate 15 in Las Vegas.

The team confirmed they had purchased the land shortly after the report came out. The projected $1.5 billion ballpark would be north of Allegiant Stadium, where the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders play.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he is optimistic that the franchise will bring “finality to this process by the end of the year.” It’s not clear when the move would take place but the newspaper also reported that the new stadium is currently on track to open in 2027. It’s also possible the team will have a temporary home before the new stadium opens.

The A’s have had a few homes since the franchise began playing ball in 1901. The organization originated in Philadelphia before moving to Kansas City in the 1950s. After a little more than a decade there, the team kept trekking West, playing its first game in Oakland in 1968.

News of the impending deal quickly reached California, where Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao told the San Francisco Chronicle that the city is done trying to work with the A’s. The city had negotiated a possible new stadium in another part of the city, while the A’s also spoke with Las Vegas.

MLB to SLC? Read more on Utah’s plans and chances to bring baseball to the Beehive State

“I am deeply disappointed that the A’s have chosen not to negotiate with the City of Oakland as a true partner, in a way that respects the long relationship between the fans, the city and the team,” she told the outlet.

Now that the future of Athletics is all but certain, MLB is expected to focus its attention on the Tampa Bay Rays’ relocation situation before it considers an expansion to 32 teams. However, the latest update is good news for Salt Lake City’s chances as it bids for one of two new franchises.

Adam Thompson, a sports handicapper for the Florida-based Bookies.com, told KSL.com earlier this week that Salt Lake City’s odds would be greatly diminished had the A’s stayed in Oakland or relocated to anywhere other than Las Vegas. That’s because he believes MLB is deadset on having a team in Sin City, so it would have been the frontrunner for one of the two new MLB teams.

Barring another city’s entry into the conversation, Oakland’s move likely pits Salt Lake City and Portland, Oregon against each other for a new MLB in the West. Thompson currently gives Salt Lake City the edge in that debate, saying the city’s momentum is stronger, especially since it unveiled a strong stadium plan.

“In terms of stadium plans, I think it’s the best one — or, at worst, rivals the other ones,” he said. “They really put their best foot forward with this plan.”

MLB has not yet announced an expansion timeline, including when two new cities will be picked or when they will join the league.

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Las Vegas A’s: The 1st shoe in MLB’s relocation puzzle just dropped