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Amid a messy split, A’s announce temporary move to minor league park

Amid a messy split, A’s announce temporary move to minor league park

Tooba Shakir 54 years ago 0 1

The Oakland Athletics, who have yet to break ground on their future Las Vegas ballpark but have nevertheless spent the past few months burning all remaining bridges with the city they have called home for decades, announced Thursday that their time in Oakland will officially come to an end after this season.

The Athletics will move from Oakland Coliseum to Sutter Health Park in Sacramento, current home of the Class AAA RiverCats, for the 2025, 2026 and 2027 seasons “ahead of the team’s move to Las Vegas in 2028,” according to a news release from the team. Sutter Health Park has seats for fewer than 11,000 people. Tropicana Field, the smallest ballpark in the majors and the home to Tampa Bay Rays, holds more than twice that number.

The move comes after negotiations between the Athletics and Oakland city officials collapsed, leaving the two sides unable to come to an agreement on a short-term lease. The Athletics moved from Kansas City, Mo., to Oakland in 1968 but have seen their relationship with the city deteriorate over the past few years as owner John Fisher claimed local officials did not make the necessary efforts to keep a thriving major league team in Oakland and city officials claimed he did the same.

“We explored several locations for a temporary home, including the Oakland Coliseum. Even with the long-standing relationship and good intentions on all sides in the negotiations with Oakland, the conditions to achieve an agreement seemed out of reach,” Fisher said in a statement. “We understand the disappointment this news brings to our fans, as this season marks our final one in Oakland. Throughout this season, we will honor and celebrate our time in Oakland, and will share additional details soon.”

Sutter Health Park, built in 2000, houses the Class AAA affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. That team is owned by the Sacramento Kings, whose chairman, Vivek Ranadivé, introduced Fisher at a news conference at the stadium Thursday afternoon.

Fisher thanked Sacramento for being “so welcoming” to his team and called Sutter Health Park “the most intimate park in all of Major League Baseball” before leaving without taking questions from reporters. Ranadivé, who did take questions, told Bay Area ABC affiliate KGO-TV that he has been in touch with MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, who told them MLB is looking to add an expansion franchise on the West Coast. Ranadivé said he believes hosting the A’s in the interim will allow Sacramento to make its pitch.

“This is a moment of conflicting emotions. Oakland is a great city that rightfully deserves professional sports, including Major League Baseball. The circumstances leading to the A’s departure were beyond our control as the capital city and region,” Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg said in a statement. “ … A decade ago, when we united to save the Kings, many of us said yes because we believed it would bring untold benefits to the future of Sacramento. Not only did we keep our NBA team, but now (at least temporarily) we are a Major League Baseball city.”

What was not immediately clear, however, was how Sacramento will handle being home to both a Class AAA and MLB team at the same time. Just as unclear is whether the Athletics will be ready to move to Las Vegas — or rather, whether a Las Vegas ballpark will be ready for them — by the 2028 season. Last year, MLB approved the A’s move to Las Vegas with an eye on opening a new ballpark by Opening Day 2028. But there are still a hotel and casino on the targeted site, renderings of a new stadium are incomplete, and local officials have expressed skepticism about everything from the way the A’s have barreled through the process to their choice of ballpark location.

More immediately, the news comes as the A’s have experienced painfully low attendance in the early days of the 2024 season. As of Thursday, Oakland was averaging fewer than 7,000 fans, less than half of what the Miami Marlins, the majors’ next-lowest draw, were seeing. The relationship between team and jilted city already seemed beyond repair. Now an official end is on the calendar. A once beloved franchise has decided its relationship with the city it called home for half a century has reached the point of no return.

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