Oakland A’s to Play Games in Sacramento While Waiting for Las Vegas Stadium to Be Built

  • The A’s will share a home with the San Francisco Giants’ Triple-A affiliate
  • The team will just be the “A’s” or “Athletics” with no city name until the Las Vegas move
  • Oakland offered the franchise a five-year lease extension for $97m
  • The Tropicana Las Vegas will be torn down to make way for the A’s new stadium
Oakland A's cups
The A’s will play in Sutter Health Park, home of the minor league Sacramento River Cats, while their new Las Vegas stadium is under construction. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Cozy confines

MLB’s Oakland A’s have embarked upon their final, sad season before leaving northern California for Las Vegas. But wait, as ESPN’s Lee Corso would say: “Not so fast, my friend.” The franchise announced on Thursday that while its new stadium is being built in Nevada, it will play its home games at Sutter Health Park in Sacramento.

The A’s will share the stadium with the San Francisco Giants’ Triple-A affiliate, the Sacramento River Cats. The agreement is for the 2025-2027 seasons with an option for 2028; the A’s expect to start playing in Las Vegas in 2028, but the deal gives them some flexibility in case stadium construction runs behind schedule.

In addition to its location in a completely different city (Sacramento is about 80 miles northeast of Oakland), Sutter Health Park will be quite the departure from what Major League Baseball players are used to because of its size. With a seating capacity of 10,624 – up to 14,014 when counting lawn seats and standing room-only – the stadium will be far and away the smallest in the league. Cleveland’s Progressive Field is the smallest at a capacity of 34,830, while, coincidentally, the Oakland Coliseum is the largest with a capacity of 56,782.

The A’s will not have a city as part of their team name while playing in Sacramento.

Oakland made its pitch

The A’s did engage in discussions to have the most awkward of temporary homes before their move to Las Vegas: their current stadium in Oakland. The City of Oakland offered the team a five-year lease extension for $97m with an opt-out after three years (the A’s would have to pay the entire sum, regardless). Part of the proposal required the A’s to sell its 50% stake in the Coliseum to a local developer so the city could redevelop the land.

Oakland also wanted the team to pick from one of three options: a) sell the A’s to a local owner, b) give up the team name and colors upon relocation to Las Vegas, or c) assurances from MLB to guarantee Oakland gets an exclusive one-year window to present a new owner the next time the league expands. It sounded like the city eventually backed down from these demands.

an audition of sorts for future MLB expansion

The River Cats are owned by Vivek Ranadivé, who also owns the NBA’s Sacramento Kings. A friend of A’s owner John Fisher, Ranadivé has wanted to get Sacramento an MLB team, so he sees this opportunity as an audition of sorts for future MLB expansion. Plus, if the move to Las Vegas falls through for whatever reason, he could put his city at the front of list for the A’s new home.

Goodbye to the Trop

Assuming all goes to plan, the A’s will move into a new stadium in 2028 on the south end of the Las Vegas Strip where the Tropicana currently stands. The Tropicana closed on April 2, just two days away from its 67th anniversary, to prepare for demolition later this year.

allow the A’s to use nine acres for the $1.5bn, 33,000-seat stadium

Bally’s, the owner of the Tropicana, and Gaming and Leisure Properties, Inc., which owns the land, worked out an arrangement to allow the A’s to use nine acres for the $1.5bn, 33,000-seat stadium. More discussions will take place after the A’s start playing in Las Vegas about further development of the land around the stadium.

Las Vegas is the hottest city in the country for professional sports. In 2017, the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights were created as an expansion team. The following year, the WNBA’s San Antonio Stars moved to Las Vegas and became the Aces and have won the last two league titles. The NFL’s Oakland Raiders relocated to Las Vegas in 2020 and in four years, the A’s will join them.

On the opposite end, of course, is Oakland, which will lose its third major team in a decade. In addition to the Raiders and A’s, the NBA’s Golden State Warriors left the city for San Francisco in 2019.

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