The Athletics moved from Kansas City to Oakland ahead of the 1968 MLB season, as a part of baseball's California gold rush that saw the Dodgers and Giants leave New York for the Golden State.
Prior to their time in Missouri, the Athletics were a staple of Philadelphia's Shibe Park. Now, the Athletics will be calling Las Vegas their home after 65 years in the Bay Area. With a 2027 target set, and a binding contract to buy land for a proposed stadium, the Athletics once rumored move has become a reality.
Oakland sports fans have been through this before, as the Raiders made the same exact move in the last few years. But, with the A's ownership refusing to put money into the team, and a new Oakland Stadium hitting snags at every turn, it becomes clear that no one is thinking about the fans or the impact on a community who has spent more than half a century rooting for this team.
Athletics Set a Date to Move to Las Vegas
In a statement released after the news broke, the Oakland front office spoke of their 20-year journey to this moment and their disappointment at the dissolved conversations regarding a new waterfront ballpark.
"For more than 20 years, the A's have focused on securing a new home for the Club, and have invested unprecedented time and resources for the past six years to build a ballpark in Oakland. Even with support from fans, leaders at the city, county and state level, and throughout the broader community, the process to build a new ballpark in Oakland has made little forward progress for some time. We have made a strong and sincere effort to stay here. We recognize that this is very hard to hear. We are disappointed that we have been unable to achieve our shared vision of a waterfront ballpark. As we shift our focus to Vegas, we will continue to share details about next steps."
The Athletics ownership has been famously on a tight budget for the last two decades. They literally wrote a book about it and turned that book into an Oscar-nominated movie, "Moneyball." Oakland has prided itself on building their franchise from the ground up and then letting those players walk in free agency with little to no effort in bringing them back. In today's game, that trend hasn't changed, but it's also gotten worse. Not only are the A's not attempting to win baseball games or retain generational talent, the Athletics front office is shedding payroll and trotting out a quadruple-A team and then opining about how fans aren't showing up.
Meanwhile, across the Bay, the San Francisco Giants turned things around after four seasons under .500 and in the NL West cellar, eventually winning the division with 107 wins in 2021. Turning a franchise around is not impossible, but it takes a front office who is actively trying to increase their team's wins and not their profit margins.
The Athletics have only advanced beyond the ALDS once in the last two decades, and they've done it with a team put comprised of homegrown talent, aging veterans and middle of the road ballplayers just happy to not be bouncing back and forth between the minors and the Show. If Oakland retained all of the talent they let walk in free agency over the years, it's possible the A's would have an American League pennant by now. But what's done is done, it's about the future for the Athletics, which now will take place on the Las Vegas strip.
Is this a good business move? After seeing how the Golden Knights and Raiders have been embraced by Sin City, it appears like this could be worthwhile for the Athletics. But at the same time, with their Oakland fanbase spurned, the Rockies and Diamondbacks already owning a foothold in the Southwest, the Las Vegas Athletics will have an uphill battle on their hands as they transition to their fourth city of residence.
With a history of not listening to fans and barely putting in the time, effort and cash needed to put together a successful baseball team, the Athletics are gambling on this move more than it seems. So far, the odds don't appear to be in their favor.