We’ve been watching the stadium situation in Oakland for years now. For all that watching nothing has happened for the Oakland Athletics, however, because they are basically held hostage by entities who are not the Oakland Athletics.
They couldn’t move to San Jose like they and San Jose wanted to because of the San Francisco Giants and Major League Baseball’s antitrust law-immune territory system. Likewise, they have been delayed in finding any solution in Oakland because the Oakland Raiders are also looking for someplace new to play and they and the NFL simply suck up more oxygen than the A’s do, meaning that the A’s have had to bide their time and wait to see what develops with the football team.
Now something is developing. The Raiders have been in discussions with Las Vegas for a good while now, and have seemed poised to move there if they can get the money for a new stadium. Money which no one in California is willing to give them because California is one of the few places in America that has woken up to how bad a deal it is to give professional sports teams free stadiums. But Nevada is still sleeping:
The Nevada Senate approved a plan Tuesday to spend $750 million in public funds for a new stadium in hopes of luring the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas, despite critics saying the deal “is deeply flawed.”
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval called a special session that began Monday in Carson City so lawmakers could take up a bill that would finance a $1.9 billion stadium off the Las Vegas Strip by providing $750 million from bonds that would be repaid with new revenue raised from a hotel tax.
Whether the Raiders move, ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio explains, is dependent upon the votes of the other NFL owners, several of whom are opposed to having a team in Las Vegas. The NFL is not like Major League Baseball, however, and owners have been known to go rogue in the past, suing to move despite league opposition and, in some cases, being successful in doing it. Heck, the Raiders themselves have done it before.
What does this all mean for the A’s? Well, if the Raiders do get to take that three quarters of a billion Nevada is foolishly giving them and move away from the Bay Area, the prospects for a new ballpark in Oakland are substantially better. Oakland has said at various times it wants both the A’s and the Raiders, but they’ve likewise noted that only one team is going to be able to get the sort of public accommodations a stadium would require, even if the construction of the place itself would be financed with private money.
For what it’s worth, Rob Manfred said this week that Oakland officials have privately told him that baseball is the city’s priority over football, and suggested that if the Raiders moved, the A’s new ballpark, wherever it is, could finally become a reality as opposed to the theoretical construct it has been for a good decade.
Good luck with that, A’s. And good luck giving the Raiders millions and millions of dollars to relocate, Nevada. That has never come back to bite anyone in the past. Like, ever.