A major hurdle was cleared for the Oakland Athletics’ planned move to Las Vegas as Nevada gave final approval to providing public funding for a portion of the MLB team’s new stadium.
The proposed ballpark is located at the Strip’s south end, where the Tropicana Las Vegas Casino Resort can currently be found. It will hold around 30,000 fans, feature a partially retractable roof and is estimated to cost around $1.5 billion.
Should the plan go ahead, the A’s will be the fourth MLB team to have a retractable roof on their stadium: the Houston Astros, Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers are the others.
To make the new ground happen, the A’s needed around $380 million of taxpayer money and last week they were granted access to it, with the vote going 25-15 in their favour.
The arrangement has proven controversial in the States though and it’s reopened an old debate around the use of public funds in privately-owned sporting enterprises. Democrat Assemblywoman Selena La Rue Hatch from Reno, for example, said she couldn’t support the proposal, even after amendments were made to it, because “No amount of amendments are going to change the fact we are giving millions of public dollars to a billionaire.”
Why are the Oakland Athletics moving?
It’s the latest twist in a long-running saga that first began in 2021 when the club’s current stadium, the Oakland Coliseum, was deemed unsuitable for the needs of modern baseball.
“The Oakland Coliseum site is not a viable option for the future vision of baseball,” an MLB statement said at the time. “We have instructed the Athletics to begin to explore other markets while they continue to pursue a waterfront ballpark in Oakland. The Athletics need a new ballpark to remain competitive, so it is now in our best interest to also consider other markets.”
Indeed, efforts were being made at the time to develop a new stadium, but funding and other problems have stalled progress. “MLB is concerned with the rate of progress on the A’s new ballpark effort with local officials and other stakeholders in Oakland,” the 2021 MLB statement continued.
The move to Vegas is looking highly likely, and it won’t be the first time that an Oakland sporting franchise has made the shift: the Las Vegas Raiders were previously the Oakland Raiders before moving in 2020.
Nor will it be the first time the A’s have switched locations. They began life back in 1908 as the Philadelphia Athletics before moving to Kansas City in 1955. They headed to Oakland in 1968 and enjoyed a huge amount of success, winning three successive World Series between 1972 and 1974.
The team hit the headlines again in the late 90s and early Noughties thanks to General Manager Billy Beane’s famous ‘Moneyball’ approach, which saw him bring in players at low prices based on traditionally undervalued statistics.
The team won an American League record of 20 games in a row during this time and won the West Division title in 2000, 2002 and 2003.