Photo courtesy of Thearon W. Henderson
Honey, pack your bags, we’re leaving town!
It’s no secret the Oakland A’s have the worst ballpark (besides maybe the Trop) in the Majors. There have been plenty of rumors circulating the past few years concerning a new “eco-friendly” mega-plex being built right on the Bay, but those rumors seem to be dying down and the franchise is weighing other options. I mean seriously, look at these mock-ups and convince me the city of Oakland is actually going to build this thing.
Yes, if this stadium were to actually be built it would immediately be the nicest park and the one everyone uses for their MLB The Show 2024 exhibition matches, but I’m putting the odds of that happening at slim to none. Not only would it cost billions of taxpayer dollars that is unlikely to get scrounged up to construct, but it would be a logistical nightmare in such a location.
We’ve seen A’s President Dave Kaval out on a “fact-finding” trip to Las Vegas as recently as Monday May 24th, and despite his vehement denial, there remains some speculation surrounding secret plans around other potential Pacific-Northwestern landing spots.
I’m all for it.
Does California really need five MLB teams? No other state has more than two (besides New York which is currently hosting the Blue Jays in Buffalo) and part of the reason for that can be evidenced by the lower than average yearly attendance the A’s host. Because of this, I’m ranking potential new homes for the A’s as well as some pros and cons of each.
Vegas has been one of the most popular destinations in talks amongst fans, sportswriters, and apparently the Oakland brass too. It would be insane for Oakland to lose two teams to the Sin City in a matter of 5 years, but I’m here for it. One of the main arguments for the move to Vegas would be the ability to remain in the AL West.
Ideally, the divisions would not have to realign and rivalries would be kept in tact. I’m not totally against realignment, but at least geographically, this move makes sense. With the legality of gambling in the state of Nevada and a concentration in Vegas, this move could have very positive economic implications as well. Finally, Las Vegas has hosted a Triple-A team in its city for years and has done so successfully. A bonus of this Triple-A team is their brand new ballpark, which opened in 2019.
They constructed this park with the idea of eventually making it into an MLB park, so adding a second and third deck on would be very simple. The only negative I see here is the climate. Due to extremely hot temperatures in the desert summer, the A’s would likely have to make a park similar to the D-Backs or Rangers with a retractable roof. That would add a substantial amount of money onto the project, which is something the franchise has proven hesitant to part with over its history.
I have Nashvegas as a nice Plan-B to its desert counterpart. Nashville has proven its ability to host professional franchises (the NFL’s Titans and the NHL’s Predators). It’s in the southeast, which has many more baseball crazy fans than the general crowd in the Bay Area nowadays and there is ample space to build a new park. Nashville is another city that currently hosts a Triple-A team in the Sounds, which were an affiliate of the A’s as recently as the 2018 season.
Nashville is also one of the most rapidly growing cities in the country, so the number of baseball crazy fans can only grow from its current number. Many folks, such as Justin Timberlake have loudly voiced support for moving the Franchise to the country music capital. They envision creating a strong linkage between the franchise and the strong culture of the town. One of my favorite parts of their argument is their desire to pay homage to the former Negro League team by re-naming the A’s the Nashville Stars. It’s not the most creative name, but the meaning behind it and the proposed “world class” entertainment district which would include the ballpark has my nod of approval.
The only negative I see with this move would be the inevitable division realignment. The Stars would likely move to the AL Central and boot the Royals or Twins to the AL West, which would get rid of some historical rivalries. Aside from that, I’m behind Nashvegas almost more than the other Vegas.
Portland Oregon makes the list because it make a lot of sense logistically. Portland is also the only city on this list that has an actual “movement” behind it as far as I’m aware, so it seems as though there is some support behind the move. Even though the movement exists, I’m skeptical the support for the team would last much longer than a year or two into the team actually being there. I’ve been to Portland and it doesn’t strike me as a baseball town at all. Yes, they have an NBA team, but the popularity of baseball in Oregon isn’t nearly as high as that of basketball.
The concept drawing I’ve seen of it looks decently nice, as it’s right on the waterfront and they’re planning on a ballpark village setup that any new stadium nowadays seemingly has, but it just doesn’t get me going like Vegas or Nashville. My main issue with the concept is the lack of creativity. It looks like they had a college graphic design student copy and paste a current MLB park (*cough cough* Kaufmann Stadium) and make a few minor tweaks to make it their own. You be the judge.
Another issue I see with the Portland move is the climate, similar to Vegas. Portland is in the rainiest region of the country and one of the rainiest in the world, so this would once again require a retractable roof and a considerable amount of money (although the folks with the Portland Diamond Project did account for this in their concept drawings). All in all, this move does make sense and I don’t mean to hate on Portland. A relocation to Oregon would keep the divisions the same, which I absolutely support.
Charlotte is yet another good option for the A’s, and one that has been favored by many throughout these discussions. It’s another one of the quickest growing cities in the country and yet another city that has successfully supported a Triple-A team for years (the Golden Knights are among the perennial leaders in attendance). The presence of the NFL’s Panthers, the NBA’s Hornets and nearly NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes prove the ecosystem can support another big dog.
I would personally rather see the A’s move to Charlotte than Portland, but Portland makes way more sense logistically. The MLB would have to get creative with the division realignment, but I’d be very curious to see how they pull that one off. The main reason why I’m not higher on Charlotte is that it’s just not a very exciting move. There are plenty of sports fans and baseball fans, specifically, in the area, but it’s not the headline-grabber that any of the above cities are. Nonetheless, Charlotte is a very solid option if the rest of the cities fall through, but it shouldn’t be at the top of the list.
Central Texas – Austin or San Antonio
I bet you thought I would have Montreal as the fifth option on the list, but you were mistaken. It would make some sense to have an MLB team return to Montreal after the Expos ditched town for Washington DC, but I’m against that. The unwillingness of Canada to let the Blue Jays play in Toronto due to COVID-19 soured my opinion on the Montreal option. We’re also forgetting why the Expos left town to begin with; they sucked and they had no fans. What’s changed between then and now?
There are flaws with the idea of moving the A’s to Austin or San Antonio, but there are also benefits. The main issue with it is the presence of the Rangers and the Astros in Texas. Since I was raised in Texas and I’ve seen the die hard fans both franchises have first hand and I know this would be an issue.
Nonetheless, the Austin and San Antonio metro areas combine for nearly five million residents, which isn’t including any of the cities between the two geographically. Texas is probably the most baseball crazy state out of 50 and I know there are plenty of people who would enjoy another team. Once again, if California can have five, why can’t Texas have three?
A benefit of this move would be the continuity in the AL West division and new heated rivalries between the three Texas teams would be forged. I find it mind boggling that in this area with more than five million people, the only professional sports team besides the new Austin FC MLS team is the San Antonio Spurs. I know plenty of ashamed Astros fans who would welcome this as an opportunity to jump ship and rid themselves of the ridicule they face daily. Do it for the people John Fisher.