First time posting, long time lurker. Want to say that I am a Nevada (Reno) native, but grew up going to middle/high school in the East Bay, and attended my very first A’s game in 1973 (A’s vs Indians – the only thing I remember is that the Indians had a 1st baseman that was very, very tall). My Favorite players were Joe Rudi and Vida Blue (hence the name BlueRudi). My parents would give me and my brother $20, and we could hop on Bart and go to the A’s game and still have enough for a malt. I remember fondly roaming the entire Coliseum because Finley was too cheap to hire any ushers. I also rooted for the Raiders and the Warriors. I’ve gone to hundreds of A’s games at the Coliseum, married a born and raised Oaklander, went to Cal Berkeley. But I’m here to say that yes, there’s a problem brewing and that more of you are not taking seriously enough the threat of the A’s settling in Las Vegas.
Before we get to that, a little background – My wife and I moved with children from the East Bay to Las Vegas in 1996. The reasons (stop me if this sounds familiar), we wanted to have a quality education for our kids, allow myself to pursue a career that didn’t pay all that much, and still be able to afford a house payment in a reasonable school district. As Californians, you know that it is rarely possible to achieve all that in the Golden State. So we packed up and moved to Las Vegas 26 years ago. Was I concerned that my kids wouldn’t grow up with professional sports on hand and not have the same great experiences that I was afforded growing up? Certainly! I thought for sure that I would be able to at least convince both my sons that the A’s were the team to root for. I was wrong, one did root for the A’s, but the other got corrupted by my brother and roots for the Gnats!! Both my sons played baseball as kids (were decent, but like their Dad, not good enough for even really competitive HS baseball). For those who don’t know, Las Vegas is a year-round baseball hub. Baseball can be played almost 365 days a year here and my sons growing up played spring, summer and fall leagues. We have year round baseball tournaments for traveling teams of all ages. It has produced some notable MLB’ers such as Gallo, Harper, Bryant, and even the Maddox’s (Greg and Tom), and probably more to come. So I’m going to say it – Las Vegas at heart can be a Baseball town!
I’ve been following the posts and negativity regarding the A’s possible move to Las Vegas. I sort of agree! My wish would be that the A’s build their new stadium at Jack London Square and stay there forever! While I haven’t really been following closely the local Oakland developments, I would say from my perspective, that you all should get ready to accept that the A’s are not staying and moving to Las Vegas. Please! There’s more than a few of us that are A’s fans here in Vegas, and we don’t appreciate the venom and lack of class when describing the possibility of the A’s moving here. On the other hand, I sorta understand! When the Raiders moved to LA, I totally swore them off, and to this day I still don’t have a rooting interest (although I still dislike the Seahawks, Chiefs, Broncos and Chargers). To me, at the time, it was horrible for the Raiders to move to SoCal, the home of the hated Chargers,Rams, Angels and Dodgers. So I pretty much gave up the NFL. When they came back, I didn’t trust it. When they moved to Vegas I just shrugged. But, at its heart, baseball is different. Baseball takes so much more of your time, dedication and awareness than sports like football and yes, even basketball. For those of you who have said "If the A’s move to Las Vegas, I’m burning my fan card!" I’m here to say I’m skeptical! If you have Baseball in your blood, I’m fairly certain it doesn’t matter where your team plays (and I’m pretty certain most of you don’t go to more than 10 or so games a year), you’re invested. You follow prospects, a little part of you dies when there is a blown save and you rejoice and think "The A’s won today, so not so bad!" I’m totally the same way. Again, if you’re like me, you’ll even watch other baseball games because you love the sport. And I think, even if the A’s move, if after a few short years the A’s are in the World Series, I can almost bet (another LV reference!) that you will be glued to your screen and mock pretending not to root on the team you have rooted for most of your life. We can’t control who owns the team, but it is almost impossible not to have some interest in rooting for a team that moved, broke your heart, but still remains the team that you grew up rooting for. (As an aside, I still feel the unwanted reflex of rooting for the Raiders when they’re playing the Broncos). As you know, Fischer really doesn’t care about us long term fans, and baseball in general (moving teams) has been doing this for years. I’m just trying to point out that Oakland (fairly or not) has always been portrayed as a second class city (compared to SF), and I don’t think that the current city leadership has any plans to change that view by really trying to keep a MLB franchise. Given the systematic alienation of local fans the A’s seem hell bent on, I’m not sure the A’s will ever be a great draw again until they have a new owner in Oakland. Additionally, I suspect if HT never gets built, regardless of the size of market, the Las Vegas A’s will probably be worth more in valuation than the Oakland A’s. So get ready, because whether it’s Las Vegas or another town, I think there’s a good chance the A’s will be leaving.
I did some very quick research:
-LV Aviators 2022 - 6900/game (9200/game in 2019) Pandemic killed the roll the new stadium had and Aviators need to be more competitive.
-A’s 2022 - 9849/game
-Aviators currently play on the far NW side of valley, have a beautiful outdoor stadium, but it’s hard to get to from other side of the valley for most locals.
-Strip/Central location means more local attendance
So let’s say that the A’s can at least match the height of the Aviator attendance (10k/game). That matches the current attendance in Oakland, but doesn’t take into account the following:
-Strip location also means more out of town attendance = support from strip operators
-Strip operators would probably buy suites/season tickets to comp out high rollers – they have an overstock of hotel rooms in the summer and would love to have "more heads in beds". Suites would probably be near sold out, a big revenue generator for the team.
- I can definitely see some local operators here offering Las Vegas vacation packages paired with baseball tickets and show tickets at a reasonable price just have more people in town during the slower part of the year (summer).
-Vegas would support a winner (who doesn’t?) – Raiders have not made a greatly favorable impression locally yet, and they need to consistently win to get more support. UNLV basketball when winning would sellout 19k tickets/game, Knights are routinely sold out and the Raiders run the most profitable stadium in America.
-New wildcard teams means that a reasonably competitive team can make the playoffs regularly (winning= more local attendance)
-Not sure if Fisher would care if the stadium is packed with Yankee fans when they come to town to play if he’s making more money.
-Retractable roof stadium – open during April/May/Later September/October – closed probably the rest of the season. I have seen past concepts of the stadium enclosed in glass with views of the strip. Quite different from Arizona’s stadium
Yes, the Golden Knights were an expansion team, and they did very, very well their first year. It was impossible not to get on board locally with that story. Since then, the Knights have not done as much local outreach, and are not treating their season ticket holders nearly as well as the first year and didn’t keep the core group of players that won that first year. As a result, you see the Raider effect for lots of regular season home games (packed with opposing team’s fans). The reality is that season tickets are being bought by locals (for both the Raiders and Knights) because they know they can sell their extra tickets easily to tourists coming into town, and they will attend if the Knights and or Raiders are winning. I have one friend here that is a Raider fan, has season tickets, only goes to about 3 games a year, but by selling the rest of his tickets he can pay off the total bill for the tickets and some years actually make a profit from it. Not sure if you’ll ever see that in great numbers in Oakland with season tickets.
LV will always be able to fill some seats at any stadium given its location/tourist volume (43 million visitors a year!). How many seats? That’s a great question, but I’m sure it would be more than what you’d see in Oakland.
Attendance – I think that 20k/games might be the low end (1.6million/year), but if the Strip operators really get on board I think that number could go up.
From what I understand (I could be wrong) the A’s have never made much money from their local TV/radio contracts, so I would guess that they could make a similar amount from the Las Vegas area. That all changes if MLB does the smart thing and nationalizes the TV contract and revenues (and gets rid of the damn blackouts!!!!). If the A’s think that is what is eventually going to happen, then they are gone to Vegas in a heartbeat. The A’s won’t have to compete for attention with the Giants and they would not necessarily be punished for being in a smaller market. I, like many, remember fondly the days of the Haas ownership, but they could only sustain the top tier spending for a brief few years before they decided that it was time to move on. I think we’ll see that with San Diego and yes, even the Mets in the not so immediate future. The Yankees don’t spend as much as they could because ownership is always looking at the bottom line, regardless of the huge gain in value that their initial investment in the team has produced. I’d liken it to buying a house, you may have bought it before the values started to go up, but in the end you’re probably not ready to borrow or spend on that increase in potential value unless you see a direct correlation in immediate profits and/or glory. Baseball is a business, and to expect owners to spend their own money to create a momentary span of glory while losing money on a long term basis is a rare pipedream. It does happen, but very rarely. I think Fischer’s internal calculations point towards a conclusion that unless HT happens on his terms very soon, he’d better off financially by going someplace else.
There’s some out there who have said that Las Vegas would be better off with an expansion team. Maybe, but remember, Vegas is still a city of transplants that have their own sport loyalties and would jump at the chance to see their favorite teams come to town. These transplants wouldn’t necessarily transfer their loyalty to an expansion team, but they would go to games. I’m not really sure long term if it matters whether Las Vegas gets an established team or a new one.
In Closing, I’d prefer the A’s stay in Oakland! And yes, most of us here in Las Vegas would prefer not to have Fischer as the owner if they moved here. A majority of Bay Area transplant A’s fans here in Vegas that would say the same thing. But I really believe that Las Vegas is a market that baseball could do well in, regardless of what team it is. Despite the heartbreak that a move would cause, A’s baseball is in my blood and I can’t conceive of being this passionate about any other team. Would I root for and go to A’s games here in Las Vegas? You bet I would!
Thanks for reading this rambling post!