Major League Baseball on Thursday voted unanimously to approve the Athletics’ relocation from Oakland to Las Vegas, Commissioner Rob Manfred announced during a press conference after the end of the league’s Owners Meetings. The MLB’s 30 owners voted unanimously in favor of the move, which surpassed the necessary 75% for approval.
“I know this is a terrible day for fans in Oakland. I understand that, and that’s why we’ve always had a policy of doing everything humanly possible to avoid a relocation,” Manfred said. “I truly believe we did that in this case. I think it’s beyond debate that the status quo in Oakland was untenable.”
The development comes after years of complaints about the decades-old Oakland Coliseum, and an inability to negotiate government assistance for a new ballpark in the Bay Area.
Manfred added: “I absolutely am convinced that there was not a viable path forward in Oakland. We look forward to being in Las Vegas; there’s tremendous support locally for having the A’s there. We do believe over the long haul that Las Vegas will be a great asset to Major League Baseball.”
— Oakland A’s (@Athletics) November 17, 2023
The Athletics are moving cities for the fourth time
The Athletics, who are moving for the fourth time since their inception, started off in Philadelphia when the American League was founded in 1901 where they played until 1954, after which they moved to Kansas City in 1955 for 13 seasons and to Oakland in 1968. Before the Coliseum, the team played at Columbia Park (1901-08), Shibe Park (1909-54), and Memorial Stadium (1955-67).
Managing partner and owner John Fisher noted that the history of the club will “always be a part of this franchise’s DNA, adding: “I understand the grief and anger and disappointment and sadness that our fans have. We’ve been in Oakland for a very long time, since 1968, and we have very passionate fans.”
— Oakland A’s (@Athletics) November 16, 2023
“This is a really difficult day for those fans. I think, as the Commissioner said, we felt we had no choice. We had to have a new home for the Coliseum, which is the fourth-oldest ballpark in baseball. For the last 20 years, it has shown its age. Up until a couple of years ago, we were focusing exclusively on Oakland to try and find a solution.”
“I’m very excited about the opportunity in Vegas. The fans there are terrific, the success of the Raiders and the Golden Knights as well as our own Triple-A team, the Aviators, has shown just how successful professional sports can be in that market. We really look forward to Opening Day in 2028 and bringing some of the historical success of the A’s to Las Vegas.”
The Athletics reached an agreement for a new Las Vegas stadium in May, which paved the way for the club to officially apply for relocation. MLB approved Clark County as its operating territory following the move and Nevada as its television territory. Nevada’s legislature and governor had previously approved up to $380 million in public financing toward the $1.5 billion stadium.
The initial design for the new, 30,000-seat ballpark places the stadium on the south end of the Las Vegas Strip, featuring a partially retractable roof and a playing surface that will allow for the outfield to open to the corner of Tropicana and Las Vegas Boulevard for a view of the Strip.
Rendering for the proposed Vegas ballpark
“This relocation will bring thousands of new jobs to our state, while also generating historic economic development and providing a return on public investment for the direct benefit of Nevada taxpayers,” Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo noted in a statement.
The Athletics will retain its name even after moving to Las Vegas
Fisher noted that he plans to keep the Athletics name when the club moves to Las Vegas. The A’s lease at the Oakland Coliseum will expire after the 2024 season, and the new Las Vegas ballpark is not expected to open until 2028.
It is unclear where the A’s will play their home game in the meantime. Manfred noted that alternatives are being explored, which include the A’s possibly staying at the Coliseum in the interim period. “My hope is we find an 81-game home for the A’s,” Manfred said.
Fisher added: “It’s a top priority. Baseball has to produce a schedule, so they need to know where we’re going to play. We wanted to focus our efforts on today and make sure that we could get past this milestone and get permission from the owners before we can now tackle the question of interim play and where that’s going to be.”
The unanimous vote came after a report by the relocation committee – which was led by Brewers owner Mark Attanasio, Phillies owner John Middleton, and Royals owner John Sherman – was passed along to the executive council, which approved it unanimously.
Thursday’s vote was the a key step in the process, which according to Fisher, now includes working on a development agreement and working with the county and the stadium authority in Las Vegas, all with the hope of a spring 2025 groundbreaking for the new ballpark.