The Oakland Athletics’ move to Las Vegas was unanimously approved Thursday by Major League Baseball team owners, cementing the sport’s first relocation since 2005, according to two people familiar with the vote.
The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the league had not yet announced the results. A 75% vote of the 30 teams was necessary to make the move, which was endorsed by baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred.
After years of complaints about the Oakland Coliseum and an inability to gain government assistance for a new ballpark in the Bay area, the A’s plan to move to a stadium to be built on the Las Vegas Strip with $380 million in public financing approved by the Nevada government.
The A’s lease at 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.
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 April 19 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 $1.5 billion, 30,000-seat ballpark with a retractable roof that will be close to Allegiant Stadium, where the NFL’s Oakland Raiders moved to in 2020, and T-Mobile Arena, where the current Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights started play in 2017 as an expansion team.
While San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose is the 10th-largest television market in the U.S., 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 U.S. 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).