Las Vegas Aviators Stadium at dusk, the Oakland A’s possibly could end up playing here while they wait for their new ballpark to be built if they come to an agreement with Vegas officials and if they don’t get an agreement in Oakland (file photo by the Las Vegas Review Journal)
A’s is it Oakland or Las Vegas? – The case for both cities
That’s Amaury News and Commentary
By Amaury Pi-González
OAKLAND–The 2023 season just began and the clock is doing the job the Commissioner expected. Most games are way less than three hours. Last Sunday in Seattle the Guardians and the Mariners played a game in 2 hours and 3 minutes. 2023 is also the year to fish or cut bait for the Oakland A’s franchise. Do they leave Oakland after over half a century and four World Series titles in this city (that is one more than the Giants) or like the Sinatra standard “Come Fly With Me” they leave for Las Vegas?
The case for Oakland: The City of Oakland is not a huge metropolis with just over 400,000 residents inside their city limits, but it is the third largest city in the nine-county Bay Area, only San José and San Francisco have a larger population. It doesn’t matter because we have between 6 to 7 million people in this area and two major league teams. One (Giants) have played in San Francisco since 1958 and the A’s since 1968.
Yes, the A’s are rooted in Oakland, and common sense tells us this is where they should stay. They already have a planned ballpark, Howard Terminal. Oakland is not famous for keeping their pro teams; they lost the Raiders to Las Vegas and the Warriors to San Francisco.
The track record of keeping their teams in Oakland is not that good. Yet, it makes sense since they are already ahead with the plan with a designed new park ready to go. But then there are the problems with the funding for affordable housing at the Howard Terminal area a plan that would change Oakland forever, a $12 billion project.
As of today, the Mayor of Oakland Sheng Thao says it is all fine and that they are optimistic, but they do not even have a binding agreement and it might never happen because not everybody in the city council is in favor of Howard Terminal and some will say they want the team to stay in Oakland and build a new place at the same location. But the Commissioner says that is a “no go”.
The case for Las Vegas: Nevada is a desert, sometime in the future they could run out of water, the chance of running out of water, that is their biggest problem, but they have the room and they could have the will and the money if the State decide to use funds to help the construction of the A’s park.
Joe Lombardo, Governor of Nevada did not rule out public funding for the A’s. Team management has been traveling to Vegas and has looked at three different sites; with the Rio Casino Hotel might be the one preferred location. Sooner or later, Las Vegas is going to get a major league baseball franchise, maybe by expansion, but it is not that easy.
Expansion might take more than two or even three or more years to happen. The A’s seem to be hanging on a tree like a ripe mango to take. There are other cities like Portland and Nashville (ex-A’s great Dave Stewart is involved with Nashville trying to get an expansion team).
However, and very important is that the A’s know Nevada legislation will not meet in 2024, they have to get a deal done this year, 2023. If not, then what? Oakland/Bay Area is the 5th media market in the US, Las Vegas is 40th. Even Sacramento is a larger media market than Las Vegas, as the State Capital comes in as the 19th media market.
These three famous ex-players, the first two in the Hall of Fame, had said publicly that Las Vegas would be the place to the A’s to relocate, George Brett, Greg Maddux and Jason Giambi. This is what they said:
George Brett “They should come here,” he said. “I was talking to some guys earlier, and I said if I was in the Oakland organization, I’d rather play Triple A than in the big leagues.
Greg Maddux – Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux said he’s all for bringing an MLB team to Las Vegas, be it the Oakland Athletics or an expansion team. “Any team would be great as a fan,” said Maddux, a longtime Las Vegas resident.
Jason Giambi played for the A’s from1995 to 2001, then came back to play for the A’s in 2009 and on the 23rd of May hit a home run in Oakland against the Arizona Diamondbacks, it was the 400 home run of this career.
I called it in Spanish for A’s radio and remember giving him a disc with the recording which he appreciated. This is what Giambi said “the affordability of living in this area compared with California will be a big draw for free agents”.
In conclusion: I want the A’s to stay in Oakland. I have been a resident of the Bay Area since 1969 and I have worked for both the A’s and Giants calling many of their games, with the Giants doing all 162 games home and away traveling with the team.
I am afraid Oakland is playing with fire as they might take it for granted (that they will stay), but I am not sure. The city of Oakland has big problems; crime, they’re short of cops, all you have to do is watch the news every day, homelessness is a tough problem to resolve.
They need to build more affordable housing and projections now show a growing potential current year deficit of $72M. This is one of the most serious financial challenges the City of Oakland has ever faced. Also, Oakland never got the $182 million grant they needed from the Federal Transportation Department’s Mega projects.
Amaury Pi Gonzalez is the lead play by play announcer on the Oakland A’s Spanish radio network 1010 KIQI San Francisco and 990 KATD Pittsburg and does News and Commentary at http://www.sportsradioservice.com