Oakland A’s Fans Use MLB Opening Day to Protest Ownership, Impending Move to Las Vegas

  • Thousands of A’s fans stayed in the parking lot to protest and party
  • The A’s will build a new stadium on the site of the Tropicana in Las Vegas
  • The Tropicana will shut its doors for good on April 2
  • While the stadium is being built, the team still has to find somewhere to play
Oakland A's logo
Rather than going into the stadium, thousands of Oakland A’s fans protested the team’s owner in the parking lot on opening day. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

A different kind of tailgate party

Major League Baseball’s opening day is akin to a national holiday for many, but for fans of the Oakland A’s, Thursday was bitter sweet, emphasis on the bitter. March 28, 2024 likely marked the final opening day for the franchise in Oakland, as it plans to move to Las Vegas after the season ends. So instead of celebrating, thousands of fans gathered in the parking lot, opting to spend the night protesting ownership rather than actually going into the neglected Oakland Coliseum.

effort to block $380m in public funding for the A’s future home on the Las Vegas Strip

Though a sad occasion, fans partied for hours, waved “SELL” flags directed at A’s owner John Fisher, and watched the game on a giant, inflatable screen. Political action committee Schools Over Stadiums was there, garnering support for its effort to block $380m in public funding for the A’s future home on the Las Vegas Strip. According to ESPN, one anonymous donor promised to match up to $100,000 in contributions.

“This will be the first time since 2006 that I’ve missed Opening Day,” Jorge Leon, President of a prominent fan group called the Oakland 68s, told ESPN. “Opening Day used to be a holiday for all of us. We’d take the day off and celebrate from 11am to the first pitch. This is hard.”

Thursday’s protest is the opposite of a couple “reverse boycotts” last season, in which fans flooded the stadium to support the players and coaches, but engage in a mass protest of ownership.

Final days of the Tropicana

The aforementioned A’s stadium in Las Vegas will be on the site where the Tropicana currently sits. The Trop will close for good on April 2, just two days shy of its 67th anniversary. The clean out will then take weeks or even months before the hotel and casino’s demolition, which is tentatively set for October. After that, it will be another several weeks of cleanup to prepare the site for construction.

The A’s originally had an agreement with Red Rock Resorts to buy the land of the former Wild Wild West casino for the new stadium. Not long after that, though, the team made a deal with Bally’s, the owner of the Tropicana, for the site on the south end of the Strip. Gaming and Leisure Properties, Inc. owns the land and is allowing the A’s use nine acres for the ballpark.

The A’s switched to the Tropicana for two main reasons: 1) it is located on the Las Vegas Strip, and 2) the franchise was able to decrease its request for public financing from $500m to $380m.

The current plan is to build a $1.5bn, 33,000-seat stadium on the Tropicana site, which would make it the smallest stadium in Major League Baseball. The Oakland Coliseum, coincidentally, is the league’s largest.

What about next season?

The immediate problem for the A’s as the 2024 baseball season goes on is finding somewhere to play while the Las Vegas Strip is being built. Construction is expected to start in 2025, with the stadium ready for opening day in 2028.

The team is exploring options all over the western part of the United States. Though it is very small at just a 10,000-seat capacity, Las Vegas Ballpark, home of Triple-A Las Vegas Aviators, is a strong possibility. Other venues that the A’s are considering include ones in Sacramento, Reno, and Salt Lake City.

Another odd possibility would be sharing Oracle Park with the San Francisco Giants. It’s not unprecedented, aside from the fact that the A’s would be based in another state altogether; the NFL’s New York Giants and New York Jets share a stadium, as do the Los Angeles Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers. The big difference is that there are only eight or nine regular season home games each year in the NFL, compared to 81 in baseball.

The most bizarro world option that has been discussed: continuing to play in Oakland until the new stadium is ready. Yikes.

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