The Oakland Athletics have reached an agreement to acquire land near the Las Vegas Strip and said on Wednesday that they hoped to be playing games in a new, billion-dollar retractable roof stadium on the site by 2027.
The agreement on the 49-acre site in Nevada, which the team’s president, Dave Kaval, confirmed to The Las Vegas Review-Journal on Wednesday night, will seemingly end years of tense negotiations for a new stadium in the Bay Area, an investment the team said it needed to remain financially viable and competitive with its peers in Major League Baseball.
“It’s obviously a very big milestone for us,” Kaval said of the potential move to Las Vegas, which would be the first relocation of a major league franchise in two decades. “We spent almost two years working in Las Vegas to try to determine a location that works for a long-term home. To identify a site and have a purchase agreement is a big step.”
In the past decade, the A’s have explored moves to Fremont, Calif., and San Jose before settling on a detailed plan for a waterfront stadium in Oakland — any option, it seemed, that might lure fans to watch a team that last season was the only club in baseball to average fewer than 10,000 fans a game.
The news that the team had a land deal in Las Vegas drew an angry response on Wednesday in Oakland. The city’s mayor, Sheng Thao, issued a statement saying the city would no longer negotiate with the A’s, who the mayor contended had “simply been using this process to try to extract a better deal out of Las Vegas.”
“I am not interested in continuing to play that game,” she said. “The fans and our residents deserve better.”
A move of the franchise, which appeared to have the backing of Major League Baseball, is also sure to infuriate fans of the A’s, who have bemoaned the team’s unwillingness to spend the money required to field a competitive team to rival its championship teams of the early 1970s; the home-run-bashing A’s of the late ’80s; and the more budget-conscious teams that followed — clubs that introduced baseball to the cost-cutting, value-centered approach known as Moneyball.
In recent years, Oakland has faded as a competitive force, selling off all of the team’s prominent players without developing suitable replacements, resulting in an M.L.B.-low payroll of $58.2 million. The team also increased ticket prices in the cavernous and antiquated Oakland Coliseum. As a result, attendances have plummeted, sometimes to fewer than 3,000 fans a game.
To try to signal to the team that they were still interested, a group of A’s fans this week announced plans for what they said would be a reverse boycott: an effort to show the team their numbers and commitment by filling the Coliseum for a game in June. It now appears the effort may have been in vain.
If the move happens — plenty of deals with the A’s have fallen apart over the franchise’s long history — Las Vegas would become the fourth home for the A’s, a team that was born in Philadelphia as an original American League franchise in 1901, left for Kansas City, Mo., in 1955, then moved to Oakland before the 1968 season. The last major league team to switch cities was the Montreal Expos, who left Canada and became the Washington Nationals before the 2005 season.
M.L.B.’s commissioner, Rob Manfred, has expressed support for an A’s move out of Oakland, saying in December, “We’re past any reasonable timeline for the situation in Oakland to be resolved.”
The move would be the end of major professional sports in Oakland, a port city that has in recent years become an extension of California’s Silicon Valley. The N.F.L.’s Raiders, who were formed in the city in 1960, moved to Los Angeles before the 1982 season, moved back to Oakland in 1995 and moved to Las Vegas in 2020. The N.B.A.’s Golden State Warriors, who officially moved to Oakland from San Francisco before the 1970-71 season, moved back across the Bay three seasons ago. And now the A’s would join the Raiders in Las Vegas.
Baseball would be following the N.F.L., the N.H.L. and the W.N.B.A. into a Las Vegas market long coveted by sports leagues and team owners even as it was once considered taboo because of its strong association with gambling.