Las Vegas isn’t perfect, but vote on Athletics’ move may be unanimous

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ARLINGTON, Texas — It’s hard to find a Major League Baseball owner or executive who believes that Las Vegas will suddenly become a thriving baseball market, but just the same, they are convinced the franchise will enjoy more success than in Oakland.

The 30 Major League Baseball owners are expected to unanimously approve Thursday morning A’s owner John Fisher’s proposal to relocate his franchise from Oakland to Las Vegas.

Several owners and executives conveyed privately that their patience simply has been exhausted with Oakland government officials and the A’s inability to reach a deal for a new stadium. They believe that Las Vegas provides the best alternative with its tourism and economy while also providing about $380 million towards the price of a $1.5 billion ballpark on the Las Vegas Strip.

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred is expected to make the relocation official at a press conference Thursday with owners voting on the move earlier in the morning at the final day of their meetings.

The eight-member executive council has already recommended to Manfred that their fellow owners approve the relocation, where the A’s have been the past 55 years in Oakland.

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The A’s still have a lease at the Oakland Coliseum through 2024, but it’s unknown where the A’s will play until their Las Vegas ballpark is ready in 2028. They could play games at Oracle Park in San Francisco, at Allegiance Stadium where the Raiders play, or their Triple-A Las Vegas Ballpark in Summerlin, Nevada. Everything is on the table.

The A’s who have been in Oakland since 1968, will become the first MLB team to relocate since the Montreal Expos moved to Washington, D.C., in 2005, and just the second relocation since 1972 when the Washington Senators moved to Texas and became the Rangers.

The relocation needs only 75% approval – 23 of the 30 votes – but no owner or executive contacted at these meetings are aware of a dissenting vote.

“Look, do I think it will work?’’ one AL executive said. “I have no idea. I’ve got my doubts. But enough is enough. We’ve been dealing this for nearly 20 years, and nothing has changed. It’s time to try something new.’

There could be remaining obstacles with the Nevada teachers union threatening to file a lawsuit in Nevada District Court to stop the public funding for a new ballpark, which could require Fisher to pay entirely for the new ballpark. The union has also filed a petition for a referendum putting $120 million of the $380 million on the ballot next November.

This will be the third major sports franchise to leave Oakland in the past five years, including the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas and the Golden State Warriors move from the Oracle Arena to San Francisco.

Although the A’s will be moving to a smaller ballpark with an estimated 30,000-seat capacity, and only the 40th-largest market, MLB executives say the revenue will be greater than in Oakland because of suite sales and higher ticket prices.

MLB is expected to explore expansion in the next few years, ideally bringing two new clubs into the league. Oakland mayor Sheng Thao said the city would like to be a viable candidate for a future expansion team, keeping the team nickname and colors, if the Athletics’ departure happens.

Yet, the current favorites for expansion are Nashville, Tenn., and Salt Lake City, Utah, with MLB last expanding in 1998 with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Rays, leaving Oakland for a potentially long wait.

This post appeared first on USA TODAY