Group launches Oakland Ballers professional baseball team

NBC Universal, Inc.

Oakland is stealing baseball back.

That's the message a group of loyal A's fans, investors, elected officials and influential residents are saying by launching the Oakland Ballers, the city's new professional baseball team. The announcement made Tuesday morning comes nearly two weeks after Major League Baseball owners unanimously approved the Athletics' relocation to Las Vegas.

"Unlike the A's, the B's vow to never leave The Town," the Oakland Ballers said in a statement. "The Oakland B's will be for Oakland, by Oakland, and forever in Oakland. The Oakland B's believe that sports teams should serve their communities — not the other way around."

Officials said the Oakland Ballers have raised $2 million in seed funding from investors and add anyone can become a part owner in the team by contributing to its initial fundraising push.

A group of loyal A's fans, investors, elected officials and influential residents announce the launch of the Oakland Ballers, the city's new professional baseball team, during a news conference Tuesday.

Entrepreneur Paul Freedman and Bryan Carmel, a veteran writer and producer, founded the team. Both were joined by other officials, including Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao and Oakland entrepreneur and artist Mistah FAB at a news briefing Tuesday at Laney College to announce the team's launch.

"We felt strongly that we wanted to provide an alternative to the fan base here and really come out the gates explaining what we are about, which is a team that’s made up of locals, that is built by the community and for the community," Carmel said.

The Ballers will be the first West Coast franchise to join the Pioneer Baseball League, an independent league with teams in Colorado, Idaho, Utah and Montana.

A new pro baseball team is stepping up to the plate in Oakland. They’ll be called the Oakland Ballers, or Oakland Bs for short. The announcement comes just two weeks after MLB owners approved the A's move to Las Vegas. NBC Bay Area’s Raj Mathai spoke to rapper Mistah F.A.B. about what this means for the city.

Oakland is no stranger to the crowd-funding model in which fans can become owners.

In September, the Oakland Roots soccer club launched new ownership investments and garnered more than 1,200 investors from all over the world to raised over $1 million.

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