Joe Santoro: Long odds for Las Vegas A’s

Oakland Athletics’ Matt Chapman (left) celebrates with Matt Olson after the Athletics defeated the Seattle Mariners in a baseball game in Oakland, Calif. On Wednesday May 26, 2021. (AP Photo / Jeff Chiu)

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Oakland Athletics representatives are in Las Vegas this week reportedly serious about the possibility of moving the franchise to southern Nevada.
Don’t bet on it.
Do not get me wrong. The Las Vegas A’s would be huge for the state, for the A’s, for Las Vegas, for Major League players, and for Major League Baseball. Oakland versus Las Vegas? Come on. Nobody wants to drive through Oakland, let alone live there.
But the A’s will likely never move to Las Vegas. First of all, there is the cost. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported this week that the A’s told them a new stadium would cost about $ 1 billion and the A’s, who can barely afford the toll to cross the Bay Bridge, won’t pay for everything. Can Clark County convince its constituents to fund another billion dollar stadium soon after it somehow built the $ 2 billion Allegiant stadium for the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders? Come on.
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The A’s probably don’t want to leave Oakland. After all, the city is theirs now. No more Golden State Warriors to compete against for the professional sports dollar. No more Oakland Raiders. The A’s could now own Oakland, so it is.
And make no mistake, Oakland needs the A’s. Aside from the A’s, Oakland only has a good view of San Francisco. Oakland has already lost the NBA, NFL and NHL (the California Golden Seals in the mid-1970s). It can’t afford to lose Major League Baseball too. The A’s leave town and Oakland suddenly becomes Wichita, but with better views (depending on which direction you are facing).
The A’s, who are also reported to visit Portland and possibly Nashville, Montreal, Charlotte, Vancouver, and any other city looking for cheap advertising in the coming weeks, are probably just trying to name Oaklands Bluff. On July 20th, Oakland City Council will vote on a proposed $ 12 billion complex with a ballpark. Then things get really serious.
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Many major league baseball games have taken place in Las Vegas in the past. Most of them were, of course, spring training games.
But the Oakland A’s began their 1996 regular season at Cashman Field in Las Vegas with two games against the Toronto Blue Jays and four against the Detroit Tigers (the A’s went 2-4). The 9,334-seat Cashman Field, now primarily used for soccer, was filled for the six big league games when southern Nevada proudly displayed its passion for big league baseball.
The Las Vegas of 1996 cannot be compared to the Las Vegas of 2021. The city and the area have matured and grown up. Southern Nevada, now that it has the NFL and NHL, is now a legitimate big league city. The UNLV Rebels are nothing more than a big high school in Las Vegas. Southern Nevada is really ready for Major League Baseball.
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If the A’s moved to Las Vegas, it would likely mark the end of the Las Vegas Aviators of the former Pacific Coast League (now called Triple-A West). The Aviators, who play at Summerlin’s 2-year-old Las Vegas Ballpark for $ 150 million, happen to be the Triple-A daughter of the Oakland A’s. How convenient.
So it won’t be a problem to get the aviators out of town. After all, a Triple A franchise doesn’t want to be in the same town as a Major League franchise (just like no Mountain West football school wants to compete with the NFL).
The lease of the A at Oakland Coliseum expires after 2024, so none of this happens tomorrow. Don’t feel sorry for the airmen who would have plenty of time to find a new home.
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All the airmen would have to do is look north. Reno would be the perfect new home for the aviators. There are many A fans in Northern Nevada. A fans from Oakland (and the Sacramento area) came to Reno to watch games. It’s a short flight from Reno to Las Vegas in case the A’s need a player in a rush. The Aviators (they’d have to come up with a new name) would be a good fit in Northern Nevada.
Northern Nevada will always be grateful to the Arizona Diamondbacks for bringing a Triple-A franchise to town. But let’s face it, Northern Nevada doesn’t exactly have a huge Diamondbacks fan base, despite the team’s Triple-A team having been here since 2009. The A’s Triple A team would be a huge hit in Reno, especially if it were Nevada’s team.
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When the San Francisco Giants needed a new stadium in the late 1990s, they hardly had to ask for it. The same was true for the San Francisco 49ers about 10 years ago.
The A’s have been fighting Oakland for decades. The Raiders have fought with the city of Oakland since returning to the area in 1995. The Golden State Warriors didn’t fight Oakland because they didn’t even try to stay in Oakland.
There is no question which city (San Francisco or Oakland) in the Bay Area loves its professional sports franchises the most and treats them best. Oakland is just not a big league city and has always got what it deserves. You need to save the A’s for the area before it’s too late.
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Does anyone actually believe that the Los Angeles Lakers will be eliminated by the Phoenix Suns? Yes, anything can happen. Every now and then, LeBron James just gets bored. But this is not one of those times.
The NBA playoffs without the Lakers and LeBron would be a disaster for the league. The NBA just isn’t ready for a LeBron-less final. He was in nine of the last 10. When LeBron wasn’t in the finals in those 10 years, for heaven’s sake a team from Canada won the title. That is of no use to anyone.
The NBA championship trophy should have LeBron’s resemblance. The Larry O’Brien Trophy? You’re welcome. Nobody knows who Larry O’Brien is anymore. Actually never. It’s the LeBron Trophy.
The league, everyone knows, is desperately longing for a Lakers-Brooklyn Nets final. LeBron and Anthony Davis versus Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving. Los Angeles versus New York.
It would probably be one of the most watched finals in history if people were actually still watching TV. It would be the first NBA final where everyone outside of LA and New York hoped both teams would lose.
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We don’t want to jinx it, but there’s a good chance something special is happening at Peccole Park this weekend.
The Nevada Wolf Pack baseball team welcomes the San Jose State Spartans starting Friday at 5 p.m. for four games with a Mountain West title and an NCAA regional mooring. At most, the pack must split the four-game series to win the conference crown. You may only have to win one game and maybe not even that, depending on what San Diego State does in three games against New Mexico.
Mountain West’s win always matters (just ask the football team), but Pack’s baseball team has done this before (2015, 2018).
This weekend could be historic as this year’s Mountain West regular season champion receives the conference’s automatic offer to NCAA Regionals. The pack hasn’t been with the Regionals since 2000. Twitter and Facebook weren’t even invented yet.

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