The Oakland Athletics baseball team will be moving from Oakland to Las Vegas, the team owners’ vote confirmed. Bally’s insiders, including the CEO, bought BALY stocks ahead of the vote and saw the price rise more than 20%.
On Thursday, the MLB owners confirmed with unanimous vote that the Oakland Athletics baseball team will be moving to Las Vegas. A two-thirds vote of 30 teams was necessary for the plan to go ahead, but all 30 team owners said yes.
The last-ditch efforts by Oakland Major Sheng Tao, who sent gift boxes to 15 team owners pleading them to vote No and to have the A’s remain in Oakland, were therefore unfruitful. It was expected that the vote will be unanimous as the commissioner normally doesn’t schedule votes on important matters unless the outcome is already certain. The vote was therefore considered a formality.
Prior to the Thursday’s vote, ten high-ranking executives at Bally’s, including CEO Robeson Reeves and George Papanier, bought 81,500 BALY shares for $760,000. The stock price surged more than 20%, from $9.32 on Wednesday to $11.23 on Friday.
Bally’s, that currently has a lease on Tropicana, has several options, as it could construct a new casino resort adjacent to the new stadium or it could sell its lease to another company. The casino operator will be compensated by Gaming and Leisure as part of the GLPI deal with MLB.
Las Vegas Athletics will become the fourth professional sports team in Las Vegas, following the NFL team Oakland Raiders move in 2020, the move of WNBA team San Antonio Stars that became Las Vegas Aces in 2018, and the 2017 establishment of the NHL team Vegas Golden Knights that is the current Stanley Cup holder.
The Oakland Athletics, the originators of the Moneyball philosophy of MLB roster building, are recently losing at their own game. With the smallest payroll in MLB that stands at $62.2m, the A’s were expected to get a positive overall net value, but instead have the fourth-worst mark of -$24.3m. The A’s also have the second-worst record in MLB at 19-51.
However, it’s the lowest attendance in the league that seems to have been the final nail in the coffin of the A’s tenure in Oakland. The team is averaging only 9,076 fans per home game, which is the lowest figure among the 30 teams, and mere one-third of the league average of 27,203.
Las Vegas Raiders have the third-lowest attendance in the NFL but still near the full capacity of its stadium of 65,000 and in the ballpark with half of the league as 19 teams have less than 70,000 fans per home game. Las Vegas Aces are topping the WNBA attendance at almost 10,000 fans per game. The Vegas Golden Knights average 18,000 fans, which puts them in the upper half of NHL.
It is expected that the A’s will follow a similar path and see an increase in attendance. It did not happen to Raiders immediately but there is a steady growth as the team is gaining traction with the local sports fans.
The site of the new A’s stadium is supposed to be the 9-acre site of Tropicana Las Vegas, a casino resort owned by Ballys that will be torn down. The representatives of the A’s said the construction of the new stadium would start around April 2025 and the team would start playing at the stadium some time in 2028.
In the meantime, the A’s would probably play their home games in the 10,000-seat Las Vegas Ballpark, the current home of Triple-A Las Vegas Aviators.
The new stadium at the Tropicana site is expected to get $380m in public funding from the state of Nevada. The bill was signed into law by Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo in June this year. There is an ongoing ballot initiative created by Schools over Stadiums that is putting this law into question, and this is possibly the most serious obstacle the new stadium is facing. The first attempt at the ballot initiative was rejected by the Carson City court, but there will undoubtedly be a second one. The petition could still find its way to the November 2024 ballot and give voters a chance to reject the spending of public money on a sports stadium.
The Oakland Athletics have agreed to build a new ballpark on the Las Vegas strip at the Tropicana casino site. The Major League Baseball team reached a binding agreement with Bally’s Corporation, along with Gaming and Leisure Properties (GLPI), to build a stadium on Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana Avenue.
The project calls for a 30,000-seat ballpark on the nine-acre Tropicana site, which is located on the south end of the Las Vegas Strip. The stadium would feature a partially retractable roof. The orientation of the playing surface will allow for the outfield to open to the corner of Tropicana and Las Vegas Boulevard.
The new stadium would mark the first time that the Athletics franchise has played in a new stadium of their own without another sports team tenant since the completion of Philadelphia’s Shibe Park in 1909.
From its 1901 inception until 1954, the team played in Philadelphia, where it won five World Series. It then moved to Kansas City for 13 uneventful seasons before moving to Oakland in 1968, where it won four more World Series, the last one in 1989.
The project is expected to cost $1.5 billion. The Athletics released renderings of the 30,000-seat ballpark in Las Vegas to the public designed by Schrock KC Architecture.