MLB Could Waive Relocation Fee to Spur A’s Las Vegas Move
In a bid to speed along the team’s potential move to Las Vegas, Major League Baseball (MLB) is reportedly mulling waiving a hefty relocation fee for the Oakland Athletics.
Citing sources with knowledge of the situation, the New York Post broke the story earlier Monday, adding to long-running speculation that the A’s are nearing the end of a 54-year run in Oakland and that Las Vegas is their most likely new home.
It’s believed that the club would like to make an announcement on its future in the US casino mecca before the end of this month and it’s rumored that President Dave Kaval has regularly been in Las Vegas in recent weeks evaluating two possible stadium sites — the Tropicana and unused land owned by Wynn Resorts.
As for the A’s remaining in Oakland, that’s not an entirely lost cause as local officials will soon be holding a vote that could pave the way for the team to get a new stadium there.
Why Waiving Relocation Fee Is Significant for A’s
Should the Post article prove accurate and MLB proceeds with waiving the relocation fee, it’s substantial for the A’s for numerous reasons, not the least of which is the estimated $1 billion cost of that levy.
Additionally, $1 billion is the projected cost of a new domed stadium in Las Vegas and it’s been reported that MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred wants the city to pick up $250 million of that tab — a notion Gov. Steve Sisolak (D-NV) reportedly balked at. The A’s aren’t profitable, confirming that MLB perhaps scrapping the relocation fee is in the team’s best interest.
In addition to the team’s financial struggles, there’s momentum for the A’s-to-Vegas chatter owing to futility and poor attendance. At 24 games under .500 and 21 games out of first place, in the American League West, this is not a good team.
At their home ballpark, the A’s average fewer than 8,600 fans per game and there have been multiple occasions in the 2022 season when the Las Vegas Aviators — the A’s triple-A affiliate — drew larger crowds than the MLB club.
Relocation Fees Precedent
Sports investment bankers with experience in team relocations told the Post it’d be surprising if MLB doesn’t hit the A’s with a fee if the Las Vegas move materializes.
For example, the NFL raked in almost $1.3 billion combined when the Rams and Chargers left St. Louis and San Diego for Los Angeles while the Raiders paid the league $378 million to leave Oakland for Las Vegas in 2020.
This century, the NBA hauled in $60 million combined when franchises left Seattle and Vancouver for Oklahoma City and Memphis.
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