Las Vegas hit the jackpot again. Oakland lost another piece of its soul.
On Thursday, MLB owners unanimously approved the relocation of the Oakland A’s to Las Vegas, which will likely result in the third — and last remaining — major professional sports franchise leaving Oakland in a five-year span.
The A’s have one year remaining on their lease at the decrepit Oakland Coliseum. The team’s plans beyond 2024 are unclear. A proposed $1.5 billion stadium on the Las Vegas Strip is still awaiting final approval and won’t be ready until 2028. The A’s reportedly plan to play at numerous sites until the stadium is completed, including the organization’s Triple-A park in Nevada and the Giants’ Oracle Park.
The A’s, who arrived from Kansas City in 1968, would be the second MLB team to relocate since 1972 and the first since the Expos left Montreal for Washington D.C. 19 years ago. The A’s also would be the second-longest tenured team in the four major sports to leave their home in the past 70 years.
In sports, the unthinkable is always in play. New York knows. Even a franchise that won four titles in Oakland — that gave us Reggie and Rickey, Rollie and Eck, the Bash Brothers, Giambi and Tejada and Moneyball — and is part of the nation’s 10th-largest TV market isn’t safe.
Because the neon lights of Las Vegas have never been more alluring. A city that was still unofficially blacklisted from having a major professional franchise less than a decade ago is now the hottest market in sports.
7 Twenty years after Las Vegas wasn’t allowed to advertise during the Super Bowl, Raiders fans now pay the highest ticket prices in the NFL. Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post
In 2016, the long-exaggerated fear of a major sports team playing in the gambling capital was slayed — as recently as 2003, the NFL wouldn’t even allow Las Vegas to run ads during the Super Bowl — when Sin City was awarded the NHL’s first expansion team in 16 years and began playing in the brand new T-Mobile Arena on The Strip.
In their first season (2017-18), the Golden Knights served standing-room only crowds (averaging a capacity percentage of 103.9) and sold out season tickets for the following season before their run to the Stanley Cup Finals concluded. Last season, the Knights had the league’s highest attendance capacity percentage (103.0) and raised the Stanley Cup. Before this season, StubHub declared Vegas had the “most in-demand” tickets in the league.
The WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces, relocated from San Antonio, began play in 2018, the same year the Supreme Court effectively legalized sports betting nationwide. They have reached the semifinals in five straight seasons, winning the past two WNBA championships.
The Raiders left the Oakland Coliseum after the 2019 season. They were given $750 million in public financing — the largest such handout for any stadium in American history — to build Allegiant Stadium, just off The Strip. It features the most expensive tickets in the NFL.
Las Vegas may also soon be home to the NBA. The longtime host of the Summer League — as well as All-Star Games and the upcoming In-Season Tournament semifinals and title game — could be awarded an expansion franchise as early as 2025. LeBron James and Shaquille O’Neal have already declared interest in being part of a Vegas ownership group.
7 When your city pours $500 million into hosting this weekend’s Las Vegas Grand Prix, the Blue Man Group is just part of the package. Getty Images
This weekend, The Strip will be shut down to host Formula One’s inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix. F1 is investing more than $500 million in the event.
Nevada’s Clark County is currently the 11th most-populous in the nation. It has experienced double-digit population growth in every decade since its 1909 founding, growing from 273,288 in 1970 to more than 2.2 million people today.
Casinos will continue to keep the suites filled.
Opposing fans have a built-in excuse to cross the city from their bucket list.
Las Vegas is no gamble.
Today’s back page
7 New York Post
Sean Payton gets the last laugh
Sean Payton is making Nathaniel Hackett look bad — again.
Over the summer, the new Broncos coach took unprompted shots at his predecessor, with Payton calling Hackett’s one-season stint in Denver “one of the worst coaching jobs in the history of the NFL.”
Now, as Hackett leads a Jets offense without a touchdown in 11 consecutive quarters, Payton has helped resurrect Russell Wilson’s career, sparking the Broncos’ three-game win streak, which most recently featured wins over the Chiefs and Bills.
7 Under Sean Payton, Russell Wilson has resurrected a career that appeared to be in sharp decline. AP
Last season, Hackett, who was fired before finishing his only season as a head coach, led a Denver offense that ranked last in the NFL in scoring (16.9 points) as Wilson bombed in his first year of his $245 million contract. He threw for 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions with a 60.4 completion percentage and 84.4 quarterback rating, which ranked 27th in the league.
Under Payton, Wilson has 18 passing touchdowns and four interceptions with a 67.9 completion percentage and a 104.0 quarterback rating, which ranks fourth in the NFL.
“Oh, man, there’s so much dirt around that,” Payton told USA TODAY before the season about Wilson’s first-year struggles in Denver. “There’s 20 dirty hands, for what was allowed, tolerated in the fricking training rooms, the meeting rooms. The offense. I don’t know Hackett. A lot of people had dirt on their hands. It wasn’t just Russell. He didn’t just flip. He still has it. This B.S. that he hit a wall? Shoot, they couldn’t get a play in. They were 29th in the league in pre-snap penalties on both sides of the ball.
“That wasn’t his fault. That was the parents who allowed it. That’s not an incrimination on him but an incrimination on the head coach, the GM, the president and everybody else who watched it all happen.”
7 Nathaniel Hackett has presided over one of the NFL’s worst offenses for two years running. Corey Sipkin for the NY Post
In Hackett’s first season in New Jersey, the Jets rank 30th in the league in scoring (16.0 points) and rank last in third-down conversion percentage (25 percent) — the same spot the Broncos held under Hackett last season — while the Broncos ranks 14th under Payton. The Jets also rank last in red-zone touchdown percentage (22.7 percent); the Broncos are 13th (54.8 percent). The Jets’ current red-zone scoring percentage would be the lowest in the league in more than 20 years.
Robert Saleh said this week he has no plans to replace Hackett. Before the season, Payton saw the benefit of that.
“It doesn’t happen often where an NFL team or organization gets embarrassed, and that happened here,” Payton said. “… Everything I heard about last season, we’re doing the opposite.”
Michigan rests its case
Jim Harbaugh won’t have his day in court.
Earlier this week, the Michigan head coach said he planned to testify in an Ann Arbor courtroom Friday morning, in hopes of overturning the suspension he was handed by the Big Ten from the Wolverines’ sign-stealing scandal.
But Thursday afternoon, Michigan and the Big Ten resolved their pending litigation. Harbaugh agreed to accept the three-game suspension that will sideline him for the rest of the regular season. In return, the Big Ten agreed to close its investigation of the program.
7 The next time Jim Harbaugh is on the Michigan sideline, the Wolverines will be preparing for a postseason game. AP
“Coach Harbaugh, with the University’s support, decided to accept this sanction to return the focus to our student-athletes and their performance on the field,” a statement from Michigan read. “The Conference has confirmed that it is not aware of any information suggesting Coach Harbaugh’s involvement in the allegations. The University continues to cooperate fully with the NCAA investigation.”
Harbaugh, 59, is permitted to lead the team during the week, but he will be banned from sidelines and stadiums until December, leaving offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore as interim coach.
With Harbaugh watching from a hotel, Moore led the Wolverines to a 24-15 win over No. 10 Penn State last weekend.
No. 3 Michigan (10-0) is a nearly 20-point road favorite in its penultimate regular season game Saturday at Maryland (6-4), but Harbaugh’s absence could end up costing the Wolverines a chance to play for their first national championship in 26 years.
In the regular-season finale, Michigan hosts its rival, No. 2 Ohio State (10-0), in a de facto conference championship and potential playoff elimination game.
The Wolverines have won the past two meetings after ending the Buckeyes’ eight-year win streak.
The scoreboard: Burnout edition
Heat 122, Nets 115: Jimmy Butler was the best player on the floor as the Nets (6-6) had a quirky five-game win streak over the Heat come to an end. Mikal Bridges and Lonnie Walker IV led six Nets in double figures with 23 points apiece.
St. John’s 53, North Texas 52: The Red Storm’s win in the opening round of the Charleston Classic was way too close for comfort. Joel Soriano (11 points, 12 rebounds) came through with the go-ahead basket in the nailbiting final minutes. The Johnnies’ ugly shooting splits: 34.0 (field goals)/26.1 (3-pointers)/57.9 (free throws). St. John’s faces Dayton in Friday’s semifinals.
Kraken 4, Islanders 3 (shootout): The losing streak that threatens to submerge the Islanders’ season and to cost head coach Lane Lambert his job stretched to seven games. “It feels like the Islanders have had almost the same game in three different cities on this trip,” reports The Post’s Ethan Sears. “Yet again in Seattle, they frittered away the game in the third period.”
USMNT 3, Trinidad and Tobago 0: Goals from Gio Reyna, Ricardo Pepi and Antonee Robinson lifted the U.S. men’s national team over 10-man Trinidad and Tobago in the first leg of the Concacaf Nations League quarterfinals.
Dog of the day
7 Now there’s a good boy. MLB.com
Shohei Ohtani won his historic second unanimous American League Most Valuable Player award on Thursday.
Afterward, his celebratory conference call was canceled, meaning Ohtani did not contribute his voice to the biggest question in baseball: Where will the two-way superstar play next?
What is expected to be a record-setting free agency now begins in earnest.
What we’re reading 👀
🏈 The Giants have to lean on Saquon Barkley to carry their offense. But a heavy late-season workload can be used against him in contract talks. “Loyalty means nothing,” Barkley said.
🏀 Get to know Knicks center Mitchell Robinson in his life off the court, filled with dogs and big trucks, in this delightful feature from The Post’s Stefan Bondy.
🏈 The Post’s Steve Serby goes inside the matchup between the Jets defense and Bills quarterback Josh Allen in Sunday’s crucial tilt.
🏒 It’s been two weeks since Filip Chytil was sidelined with yet another concussion, which has raised concerns about the talented Rangers center’s frequent head injuries, writes The Post’s Larry Brooks.
⚾ Yankees free-agent target Cody Bellinger gets the backing of his former Cubs coaches.
⚾ Yankees GM Brian Cashman says it’s all good now with Giancarlo Stanton and Stanton’s agent.
Las Vegas hit the jackpot again. Oakland lost another piece of its soul.