Oakland Athletics’ relocation to Las Vegas approved by MLB owners


In the end, it was unanimous.

All 30 owners of Major League Baseball voted Thursday morning in favor of approving the Oakland A’s relocation to Las Vegas.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred is scheduled to meet with reporters later this morning after the vote’s completion at the owners’ meetings in Arlington, Texas..

The owners’ approval — it required 23 votes to pass — was the final step for A’s owner John Fisher as he looks to move his club 550 miles southeast, leaving the Bay Area behind after the team’s nearly-60-year run in Oakland.

If completed, it will mark the second relocation for an MLB team in the last 52 years, and the first since the Montreal Expos moved to Washington, D.C. to become the Nationals in 2005.

Las Vegas would become the fourth home for the A’s since the franchise began playing in Philadelphia in 1901. The A’s moved to Kansas City in 1955, then to Oakland to begin play in 1968. No other MLB franchise has had four different cities to call home.

It remains undetermined when the A’s will leave Oakland, however.

The A’s proposed ballpark in Las Vegas wouldn’t open until 2028. The club secured $380 million in public funding from the Nevada legislature in June, and it is believed the A’s were finally able to provide their own private financing plan to reach the estimated $1.5 billion cost for a new retractable-roof stadium. But the A’s have not yet explained where they will play until the stadium is ready.

Club president Dave Kaval has publicly stated that the three most likely options would be to extend their lease in the Coliseum, share Oracle Park with the San Francisco Giants or borrow the A’s Triple-A stadium in Vegas, where the 10,000-seat ballpark would require renovations before it could earn the approval of the MLB Players Association.

If the A’s complete the move, it will put an end to the club’s years-long effort to get a new stadium built in the Bay Area.

It was back in 2001 that city officials began publicly discussing efforts for a new ballpark for the A’s. Over the next decade, ideas were tossed around about new ballparks in Oakland, Fremont and San Jose, but none came to fruition. When the A’s turned their attention inwards and thought about rebuilding on the Coliseum site, those efforts failed, too. They missed again when trying to build on land owned by Laney College.

Then there was the Howard Terminal project, a $12-billion plan to build a ballpark as well as both commercial and residential real estate on the waterfront.

Renderings were released and last September, an 82-page preliminary document plan was shared between the A’s and the city, according to the document released by Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao this summer.

Thao has said that the city raised more money than the A’s asked for to help fund the new stadium and off-site infrastructure. It didn’t matter. In April, the A’s announced that they were done negotiating with Oakland and had agreed on a deal to move the team to Las Vegas.

Kaval later explained to The Nevada Independent that the A’s didn’t think the Howard Terminal project would be complete for another 15 years. Thao responded by saying a stadium could’ve been fast-tracked with construction beginning in 18 months, while “a whole grand scheme” could’ve begun construction in two years.

The disconnection was crystal clear in July, when Thao flew to Seattle to have a secret meeting with Manfred, hoping she could convince him that the city did its part to get a stadium deal done. But over and over, Manfred and the other owners have contended that Oakland hasn’t been a realistic possibility.

Without a lease extension, the A’s will have one more season in 2024 to finish their relationship with the Coliseum, their home since 1968.

Thao has said she won’t extend the agreement without some guarantee from MLB that Oakland would receive an expansion franchise. It’s not unusual for a city to get a replacement team after losing its original club to relocation. MLB is hoping to add two expansion teams as soon as the A’s and the Tampa Bay Rays get new stadiums.

Manfred has not yet made any public remarks about the viability of Oakland as an expansion site.

An ownership group led by former A’s pitcher Dave Stewart is seen as a favorite to land an expansion team in Nashville, while Portland, Salt Lake City, Charlotte and Montreal are other cities said to be in contention.

There is no known ownership group trying to lead expansion efforts in Oakland, but Warriors owner Joe Lacob told the San Francisco Chronicle last year that he has had a standing offer to buy the A’s for a decade. Fisher has shown no desire to sell the team.

Stewart thinks time is running out if Oakland is going to be a viable expansion city.

“Expansion is moving,” he told the Bay Area News Group in September. “It’s not going to wait for a group out of Oakland to show themselves in 2025. It’s my belief by 2025, expansion will be down the road and Oakland will have missed out.”

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