The long-rumored Oakland Athletics relocation may be upon us. The club has reached the threatening-to-leave stage of negotiations with the city on the construction of a new stadium. Major League Baseball and the A’s released a statement offering contradictory sentiments: a commitment to Oakland and a willingness to abandon Oakland. The seriousness of these threats remains unknown, as this announcement could to some extent be a bluff designed to compel Oakland City Council to provide more taxpayer dollars to the construction of a new ballpark.
Either way, the tactic has the inherent consequence of harming the fandom of the Oakland faithful. The impact on kids especially risks damaging the long-term health of the franchise, as the youth of Oakland may elect not to form a life-long attachment to a club that could abandon them in the near future.
Athletics Relocation: History in Oakland
The American League club four has won four World Series and six pennants for and with Oakland. Yet, Oakland fans began their joyful years with heartbreak in another town. Fans in Kansas City were devastated to lose their Athletics when the club bolted for the newly-constructed Oakland-Alameda Coliseum. The multipurpose stadium is owned by the city and county and was built largely with private financing, though renovations and maintenance over the years have cost taxpayers and the government hundreds of millions of dollars.
The stadium itself is routinely ranked among the worst to watch baseball. Its 55,000-audience capacity and cookie-cutter aesthetic are disliked by most, though a certain segment of fans enjoys the grittiness and 1970s nostalgic feel. Of course, 81 major league games are played in the ballpark every year with an average of 20,000 fans in attendance the past five full seasons.
The team is awash in money. The present owner, John Fisher, has a net worth of $2.4 billion. He purchased the A’s for just $180 million, and the club is now valued at $1.1 billion. Yet, Fisher is requesting massive welfare assistance to finance a brand-new baseball-specific stadium on some of the most valuable lands in the Bay Area without a corresponding ownership stake in the club. The city has repeatedly expressed an interest and commitment to building a new ballpark, but in such a way that does not create a real financial hardship for Oaklanders.
The Athletics have called two cities home before their 1968 relocation to California. However, the club is highly unlikely to return to either Philadelphia or Kansas City considering the limited markets and established the presence of the Phillies and Royals.
Instead, these seven cities are the most likely contenders for the new home of the franchise should one billionaire decide to abandon the team’s home of 54 years. All are contenders for expansion, too. It is also certainly possible that the club elects to drop the century-plus Athletics moniker in favor of a new nickname.
- Metro population: 2,636,883
- Current club: Charlotte Knights (Triple-A East)
- Minor league pennants: 10
- Current stadium capacity: 10,200
- Possible nicknames: Knights, Athletics, Hornets, Hounds, Mustangs
- Metro population: 2,227,053
- Current club: Las Vegas Aviators (Triple-A West)
- Minor league pennants: 3
- Current stadium capacity: 10,000
- Possible nicknames: Aviators, Athletics, 51s, Stars, Wranglers, Sinners, Dinosaurs
- Metro population: 21,804,515
- Current club: Mexico City Red Devils (Mexican League)
- Best team in baseball season (arguably): 1994 – shared with the other AAA leagues and NPB as the highest-level baseball with complete seasons
- Minor league pennants: 16
- Current stadium capacity: 20,576
- Possible nicknames: Red Devils, Athletics, Eagles
- Metro population: 4,247,000
- Current club: None
- Junior World Series titles: 3
- Minor league pennants: 9
- Current stadium capacity: 45,757
- Possible nicknames: Expos, Athletics, Quebecois, Royales
- Metro population: 1,959,495
- Current club: Nashville Sounds (Triple-A East)
- Dixie Series titles: 4
- Minor league pennants: 17
- Current stadium capacity: 10,000
- Possible nicknames: Sounds, Athletics, Stars
- Metro population: 2,478,810
- Current club: None (though the Hillsboro Hops play in the metro area and Portland Mavericks play with the city’s name in Keizer)
- Minor league pennants: 12
- Current stadium capacity: NA
- Possible nicknames: Beavers, Athletics, Mavericks, Webfoots, Gladiators
- Metro population: 2,463,431
- Current club: Vancouver Canadians (High-A West)
- AAA World Series titles: 1
- Minor league pennants: 15
- Current stadium capacity: 6,500
- Possible nicknames: Canadians, Athletics, Capilanos, Mounties, Beavers
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