Oakland Athletics’ move to Las Vegas expected to be approved by MLB owners this week: Sources


A report overseen by Major League Baseball’s relocation committee on the Oakland Athletics’ proposed move to Las Vegas is in the hands of all 30 club owners and is said to pose questions about the viability of the market. But the sport’s owners are expected to approve the move Thursday anyway, people briefed on the process said.
One person briefed on the report described the A’s potential for success in Las Vegas as “iffy” but added there was no perceived better alternative, despite Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao’s contention that the necessary funding can be found in Oakland.
A 75 percent vote among owners at a meeting in Arlington, Texas, is required for approval, which means a group of only eight would be needed to block the move. But there was no known coalition planning to stand in opposition as of Monday, and approval has long been expected.
“I haven’t heard anyone who’s against,” said the person briefed on the report and ownership thinking, who was not authorized to speak publicly.
That person also said the report showed a heavy burden for the A’s success in Las Vegas would rest on tourism. A second person briefed on the report did not feel tourism was so heavily emphasized but acknowledged it as significant.
The city’s media market would be the smallest of any major-league team, minimizing the potential TV revenue available. And though Las Vegas’ population is growing, its transient nature leads to two questions: How many out-of-towners would attend A’s games, and how eagerly would the dominant local businesses — the casinos — sponsor and support the team?
“No one knows what payroll they can sustain — all depends on where it all goes,” one of the people briefed on the report said.
Oakland fans implored team owner John Fisher to sell the Athletics this season. (Robert Edwards / USA Today)
The A’s had the lowest payroll in the sport last season, about $57 million on Opening Day. The planned stadium in Las Vegas would open in 2028, at an estimated cost of $1.5 billion.
None of the exact revenue projections in the report, which staff at MLB helped prepare, or the assumptions that underlie those figures were known Monday. A’s revenues are projected to be higher in Las Vegas than they have been in Oakland, however, which means the A’s would receive less in revenue sharing from other teams than they do presently.
Until shovels are in the ground and related deals are executed among the team, league, financiers and government entities, the A’s move isn’t technically finalized. But the greatest threat to relocation was likely never baseball’s owners.
That distinction appears to belong to school teachers in Nevada, who already have launched one legal challenge and are planning at least one more. They do not face an easy road.
Schools over Stadiums, a political action committee backed by the teachers’ union, wants to put $380 million in funding for the stadium that was awarded by the state legislature to a vote in November 2024. The group faces resistance from labor unions and the A’s, who have already won one court battle over the referendum. A judge ruled last week it was not written and presented in accordance with guidelines.
“These proponents have a perfect right to propose a referendum in Nevada, they just have to follow the law,” said Bradley Schrager, a lawyer representing the A’s and the labor groups.
Alexander Marks, a spokesperson for Schools over Stadiums, said an appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court was to be filed Monday. If that appeal is successful or if the referendum is refiled — and in either case, if it survives any future legal challenges — the group would need to collect more than 100,000 valid signatures by early July to bring a vote, which is no small task.
“We launched Schools over Stadiums after the legislative session, where Nevada again fell short in prioritizing public education,” Marks said. “We have the nation’s largest class sizes, we have the nation’s highest vacancy rate. That leaves thousands of Nevada classrooms either doubled up or covered with substitute teachers. And basically we’re at a point now where the underfunding compromises the basic function of doing education in our state.
“Our priorities are misguided. … And a stadium publicly financed is not going to solve any of our problems.”
During the World Series, commissioner Rob Manfred acknowledged that if the teachers’ union is successful, it could be disruptive to the league’s plans. The disappearance of $380 million could change the calculus for A’s owner John Fisher and MLB.
“If there was an adverse development with respect to that referendum, that would be a significant development,” Manfred said. “That’s all I can say about that.”
The teachers could also pursue a parallel attack plan. Marks said the group is “very, very close” to challenging the legislation that led to approval of the funding in the first place.
“Schools over Stadiums has been looking deeper into conflicts between the language of Senate Bill 1 authorizing the stadium deal and the constitution of the state of Nevada,” wrote the group’s president, Dawn Etcheverry, in a letter sent to Manfred last week. “We believe there are several violations which should lead to the bill’s partial or total invalidation if challenged in court.”
Neither the owners’ vote Thursday nor the report circulated among owners settles a question of where the A’s would play prior to the 2028 season. Their lease in Oakland expires after the 2024 season. Continuing to play in Oakland or relocating to a major- or minor-league stadium are all said to be in consideration.
“We’re focused on keeping the A’s in Oakland,” said Francis Zamora, a spokesperson for Oakland mayor Thao. “If relocation is approved by MLB, (and if) the A’s ownership wants to continue playing at the Oakland Coliseum until they move, it would have to be on the city’s terms. We have been on the record (with requirements of) Oakland retaining the A’s brand and franchise history, guarantee of an expansion team and acquisition of the ownership’s share of the coliseum complex.”
Manfred is scheduled for a news conference Thursday midday following the relocation vote. He is recommending the relocation be approved, and his executive council has voted in favor of the same, putting the matter in the hands of the 30 club “control people,” the lead owners.
GO DEEPER The best to never do it: Gerrit Cole set to leave group of greats who never won a Cy Young
(Top photo of commissioner Rob Manfred: Cooper Neill / MLB Photos via Getty Images)


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here