Oakland Mayor Says A's Fans 'Deserve Better' After Team Announces Vegas Stadium Deal

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An Oakland A's baseball fan holds a special green and yellow book that chronicles 50 years of the team. She is wearing a white and blue floral top.
An Oakland A's fan holds a book chronicling 50 years of the team during a fan event in San Francisco on April 6, 2022. Oakland's mayor, Sheng Thao, said in a statement regarding the team's announcement of its plans to build a new stadium in Las Vegas that she was disappointed the A’s didn’t negotiate with the city as a 'true partner' and that fans 'deserve better.' (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

The Oakland Athletics have signed a binding agreement to purchase land for a new retractable-roof ballpark in Las Vegas after being unable to build a new venue in the Bay Area.

Team President Dave Kaval said Wednesday night the team finalized a deal last week to buy the 49-acre site close to the Las Vegas Strip, where the A’s plan to build the stadium with a seating capacity of 30,000 to 35,000.

The A’s will work with Nevada and Clark County on a public-private partnership to fund the stadium. Kaval said the A’s hope to break ground by next year and hope to move to their new home by 2027.

“It’s obviously a very big milestone for us,” Kaval said. “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.”


The A’s had been looking for a new home for years to replace the outdated and run-down Oakland Coliseum, where the team has played since arriving from Kansas City for the 1968 season. They had sought to build a stadium in Fremont and San José before shifting their attention to the Oakland waterfront.

Las Vegas would be the fourth home for a franchise that started as the Philadelphia Athletics in 1901, lasting until 1954.

“We’re turning our full attention to Las Vegas,” Kaval said. “We were on parallel paths before. But we’re focused really on Las Vegas as our path to find a future home for the A’s.”

Commissioner Rob Manfred said in December the A’s would not have to pay a relocation fee if the team moved to Las Vegas.

“We’re past any reasonable timeline for the situation in Oakland to be resolved,” Manfred said then.

At a press conference on Thursday, Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao said she realized the A’s were using the city of Oakland as leverage early Wednesday evening when she received a phone call from Kaval.

“I want to be very clear, this announcement happened mid-negotiations and it shows that they had no interest in reaching a deal with Oakland at all,” Thao said. “Oakland is not interested in being used as leverage in the A’s negotiations with Las Vegas, and it is disrespectful to our residents and our fans to string the city along this way.”

In a statement released late Wednesday, Thao said she was disappointed the A’s didn’t negotiate with the city as a “true partner.”

“The city has gone above and beyond in our attempts to arrive at mutually beneficial terms to keep the A’s in Oakland,” Thao said in the statement. “In the last three months, we’ve made significant strides to close the deal. Yet, it is clear to me that the A’s have no intention of staying in Oakland and have 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 — the fans and our residents deserve better.

“I am incredibly proud of what we have accomplished as a City, including securing a fully entitled site and over $375 million in new infrastructure investment that will benefit Oakland and its Port for generations to come. In a time of budget deficits, I refuse to compromise the safety and well-being of our residents. Given these realities, we are ceasing negotiations and moving forward on alternatives for the redevelopment of Howard Terminal.”

A baseball stadium is seen in the distance from a parking lot. Two, large stadium light poles stick out and a line of baseball fans line up.
The view outside the Oakland Coliseum before a game between the Seattle Mariners and the Oakland Athletics in Oakland, on April 6, 2012. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

The A’s would be only the second MLB team to change cities in more than a half-century. Since the Washington Senators became the Texas Rangers in 1972, the only team to relocate was the Montreal Expos, who became the Washington Nationals in 2005.

The A’s lease at the Coliseum expires after the 2024 season. The team has struggled to draw fans to the stadium in recent years as owner John Fisher slashed payroll and many of the team’s most recognizable stars were traded away.

Oakland had the lowest opening day payroll in baseball at $58 million — less than the combined salaries of Mets pitchers Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, who tied for the major league high of $43.3 million.

The team is 3–16 this season and has been outscored by 86 runs — the worst mark through 19 games since 1899. The average attendance through 12 home games this season is 11,027 for the lowest mark in the majors and less than half of the league average of about 27,800. The A’s haven’t drawn 2 million fans at home since 2014 — their only year reaching the mark since 2005.

If the A’s leave Oakland, the city with a rich sports tradition would have no major pro sports teams, with the NFL’s Raiders having moved to Las Vegas in 2020 and the NBA’s Warriors moving across the bay to San Francisco in 2019.

“We know it’s a difficult message for our folks in Oakland,” Kaval said. “Obviously we’re grateful for all the hard work that went into the waterfront. But we have been unable to achieve success or make enough progress.”

Las Vegas is quickly becoming a sports mecca after years of being considered a pariah because of ties to the gambling industry. With gambling legalized in much of the country, the city now could have a baseball team to join the NHL’s Golden Knights, who began as an expansion team in 2017, and the Raiders.

“I don’t believe that this city is defined by Major League Baseball. I think that this city is defined by its great people, its great culture, its great weather, and many other things,” Thao said at the Thursday press event. “We’re not going to sell out the residents and the businesses in the city of Oakland and give all the money that we do not have to one Major League Baseball team.”

This story includes reporting from KQED’s Phoebe Quinton and Steph Rodriguez.

This story has been updated.