Athletics Las Vegas Ballpark

Evaluating several key factors of A's Las Vegas relocation saga

NBC Universal, Inc.

The Athletics’ in-progress move to Las Vegas from Oakland has been nothing short of a saga. 

In talking to NBC Sports California’s Brodie Brazil on Sunday, The Athletic’s Melissa Lockard shared what she knows about MLB’s most consequential ongoing storyline as the A's work out where they'll play when their Coliseum lease expires after the 2024 MLB season.

“Clearly, there's messaging happening,” Lockard told Brazil. “There's probably two different forces at play here. What Major League Baseball is willing to give up and what the A's might be willing to give up to stay at the Coliseum are probably two different things. The idea of negotiating an expansion franchise [which Oakland officials have said they want] is not really up to the A's. So, messaging might be different from MLB than from the A's.”

And with reports that the A’s could have a temporary home in Sacramento as they await a new ballpark in Las Vegas, Lockard evaluated what the team’s three-year move to Sutter Health Park would look like.

“It's an interesting thing because [Sacramento] has been both an A's and Giants market for a long time -- you find [the Sacramento River Cats] there for both of those teams since 1999,” Lockard said. “There was always this intent that the stadium could eventually become a big-league stadium. When it was built, there was this idea you could tack on a third deck to it.

“There was always this idea that the West Sacramento area could grow up to become this bigger thing. Certainly, when you look at the other cities in consideration, it matches up with size, media, number of people that could be going there. I don't think, though, that this would necessarily present as the best case for making that sort of pitch to [MLB]. They're not going to be playing in a big-league stadium. It's not like it's going to be able to draw 30,000 people a day.”

Lockard also believes MLB commissioner Rob Manfred misconceives the Bay Area baseball market. When asked how the league planned to keep a presence in Oakland, Manfred recently seemed to suggest that A’s fans root for the Giants, saying: “First of all, we do have a major-league team in the Bay Area. It's not like there is not an available option. The Giants obviously still play there.”

Said Lockhard: “I do think there is a real misunderstanding of this market from the East Coast base of Major League Baseball. There's a sense that the Bay Area is smaller than it is [and] this idea, ‘Geographically, there's only 10 miles apart between [the A’s and San Francisco Giants]. Therefore, it's like basically like they're neighbors.’ And they're not neighbors in any way.”

Regarding the A’s' on-field product, Lockard fears for the team’s ability to sign free agents because of uncertainty surrounding its home field and proposed move.

“Even with the fact that I think a lot of players would play for [A’s manager] Mark Kotsay under [many] circumstances, it's too negative [an environment] to want to make a long-term commitment,” Lockard said. “I think Ross Stripling was fine with coming over in a trade. I think Alex Wood was fine with coming over for a year. A year is one thing, but … you're talking about two to three years and not knowing where your family is going to live. It’s hard enough to be a major league baseball player and know you could be traded.”

Contact Us