ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Major League Baseball team owners are set to vote Thursday on the proposed relocation of the Oakland Athletics to Las Vegas at the end of their league-wide meeting.
Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred was presenting his recommendation to the 30 owners during the three-day meeting, which came about six months after the A’s reached a tentative agreement for a new stadium in Las Vegas after being unable to reach a deal for one in Oakland.
Any recommendation for a move would require at least a three-quarters vote — at least 23 owners — for approval. The last team to relocate was the Montreal Expos, who became the Washington Nationals in 2005.
When some owners were arriving Tuesday, a plane pulling a banner that read “A’S BELONG IN OAKLAND –#VOTENO” flew above the hotel where they are meeting adjacent to Globe Life Field, home of the World Series champion Texas Rangers.
That is part of a last-ditch effort to stop any approval of the move. At least half of the owners were sent special “Stay In Oakland” boxes from Bay Area fans packed with a green Athletics cap, a baseball card featuring his likeness and a note telling him all the reasons he should vote no on the team’s planned relocation.
If a move is approved, a new Las Vegas ballpark appears unlikely to open any earlier than 2027. It is uncertain where the A’s would play after 2024 during construction of a new stadium.
The team announced April 19 it had purchased land in Las Vegas, then a month later replaced that location with a deal with Bally’s and Gaming & Leisure Properties to build a stadium on the Tropicana hotel site along the Las Vegas Strip.
Nevada’s Legislature and governor approved public financing for a $1.5 billion, 30,000-seat ballpark with a retractable roof that will be close to Allegiant Stadium, where the NFL’s Oakland Raiders moved in 2020, and T-Mobile Arena, where the current Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights started play in 2017 as an expansion team.
Oakland finished an MLB-worst 50-112 this season and was again last in the majors in average attendance at 10,276 per game. That was well below the league-wide average of 29,283, but up from the previous two years when the A’s were below 10,000 fans per game.
The A’s have played in the Oakland Coliseum since moving to California in 1968, and their lease to play in the outdated and run-down facility goes through next season. There were several proposals for new ballparks around Oakland since at least 2006 before owner John Fisher and the team turned their focus to Las Vegas.
Oakland is the franchise’s third home. It started in Philadelphia from 1901-54, then moved to Kansas City for 13 seasons before arriving in California.
A Nevada judge last week threw out a proposed ballot referendum backed by a statewide teachers union that would give voters the final say on whether to provide the public funding for the proposed stadium on the Las Vegas Strip.
Schools over Stadiums spokesperson Alexander Marks said the organization’s leadership will likely both appeal the decision to the Nevada Supreme Court and refile the referendum petition.
“If there was an adverse development with respect to that referendum, that would be a significant development,” Manfred said when speaking before Game 1 of the World Series in Texas on Oct. 27.
Before the Expos moved to Washington in 2005, MLB hadn’t had a team relocated since the Washington Senators became the Texas Rangers in 1972.
AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report
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