The Athletics, currently in Oakland, know all about moving trucks. In their long tenure as a member of the American League, the franchise has called three different cities their home. Now, according to team officials, the A’s are poised to pack once more, this time for Las Vegas.
The issue for the A’s is their ballpark, RingCentral Coliseum (formerly Oakland-Alameda County Stadium) and the team’s ability to financially benefit from corporate boxes and ticketing. The Coliseum is a large venue that has not seen major upgrades since the 1970s, and the A’s have long been operating on a shoestring budget and never shown any desire to build their own stadium. The Coliseum is owned by the City of Oakland and Alameda County. The city is one of the smallest markets in baseball, and the close proximity to the San Francisco Giants in the Bay Area also serves to limit the A’s marketing opportunities.
The City Council of Oakland is scheduled to hold a hearing on July 20. On the agenda will be a vote on whether to approve funds for a new waterfront ballpark for the A’s. Using public funds for a professional sports arena is a controversial move, criticized by many in Oakland. It remains to be seen whether the council will support the idea. A thumbs down would leave the baseball team no option other than leaving Oakland, where they have been since 1968. The A’s previously played in Kansas City, from 1955 to 1967, and in Philadelphia prior to that, going back to 1901 in the American League.
Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, in his annual All-Star Game “state of the game” address, revealed that a decision on where the A’s will play in the future is coming soon. MLB has supported the franchise in squeezing the City of Oakland to build a modern ballpark to host the team.
Team president Dave Kaval admits that the A’s are exploring as many as twelve locations in the Las Vegas valley region, and they are also open to the idea of playing in a ballpark downtown in that city.
What A Move To Las Vegas Would Mean For Major League Baseball
Like Silicon Valley with high tech, Las Vegas is the hub for the sports betting and sports betting technology industry. After decades of steering clear of any association with gambling, MLB has wrapped their arms around it in the last few years. The league has close relationships with fantasy sports providers, and now has “official” partnerships with sports betting and gaming companies. Several teams have entered agreements with Las Vegas-based companies to provide retail sportsbooks on or near the sites of their ballparks.
With the NFL and NHL already in the city, the arrival of MLB to Las Vegas seems inevitable. The league is diligently working to brand itself for an appeal to young fans, who are distracted by a flood of sports and entertainment options.
Currently, MLB Network and even broadcast partners like Fox Sports and ESPN, are including odds in their content, and Bally’s Sports now has the rights to regional broadcast of baseball in many of the largest markets in the country. Their broadcasts are riddled with sports betting advertisements and odds. Baseball has crossed the line and accepted that legal sports betting is here. MLB wants to ensure they get their slice of the huge revenue pie.
Having a team in Las Vegas would allow MLB to further expand its brand into a location that attracts millions of tourist hungry for fun and entertainment.
A ballpark downtown, while still unlikely due to space restraints, would put MLB on or near “The Strip” and give it a marquee location for the sport, which is struggling to stay relevant in an age where fans want quick, thrilling action and identifiable superstars.
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