The Oakland Athletics announced Tuesday they will begin exploring possible relocation options after receiving the go-ahead from Major League Baseball. The A's declaration is likely designed to pressure the local government into approving plans for a new waterfront ballpark at the Howard Terminal site. While the team's proposal includes a privately financed stadium, it also requires an $855 million commitment from the city to invest in and improve infrastructure, per ESPN's Jeff Passan.
The A's threat may as well be lifted from a book called "Sports Stadium Negotiation 101." Teams who haven't found a way to sweet talk politicians into funding their playhouses will, in due time, turn to strong-arming them. Politicians go along for the ride for several reasons, including the fear of losing their next election (should a team make good on its warning) and the joy they feel at being able to point at objects they helped build.
It's debatable whether the deals are ever actually good for the cities that go along with them -- and that debate exists only because it's hard to place a number on civic pride. The actual economic impact is often trifling, at best.
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The Athletics, however, are at least one step closer to relocating. The A's, should they move, would become only the third MLB team in the last 50 years to relocate, joining the Texas Rangers (who moved from D.C. in the '70s) and the Washington Nationals (who moved to D.C. in 2005). Where might the A's wind up in this scenario? Here are five candidates.
1. Las Vegas
We'll start with Las Vegas because it would be poetic, albeit in an unfortunate sense, for Oakland to lose another professional sports team to Sin City. The NFL's Raiders made the move in 2020, joining the NHL's Golden Knights as the city's first major professional sports teams. Las Vegas has long hosted a minor-league affiliate, and the legalization of gambling and continued existence of other pro sports teams without a headline-grabbing incident stemming from the city's nightlife has presumably helped MLB warm up to the idea of doing business there. The Athletics would still make geographic sense for the American League West, which is a plus.
Again, moving to Portland would allow the A's (or whatever they're supposed to be called at that point) to remain in the West. It would give the Seattle Mariners a natural geographic rival, too. Both of those are secondary factors to what actually matters to MLB and the Athletics, and that's an established local effort to build a waterfront stadium.
Former MLB executive David Samson broke down the A's relocation news on the latest Nothing Personal with David Samson. Listen below:
The Tampa Bay Rays have already called dibs on Montreal, to an extent, by publicizing their desire to play half their schedule in Florida and half their schedule in Canada. It's a laughably silly idea, and one that deserves an equally silly resolution -- like, say, the Athletics beating the Rays to the punch by promising to play all of their games in Montreal.
If MLB is willing to permit the Athletics to relocate somewhere out east, thereby forcing realignment on a grander scale, then you might as well throw Nashville, Tennessee (and Charlotte, North Carolina for that matter) into the mix. There's a group pushing for Major League Baseball in Nashville. That group includes Justin Timberlake and had veteran executive Dave Dombrowski -- until he took a job with the Phillies this winter.
5. San Jose
We'll end with the most logical landing spot on the list: San Jose. Hey, no one ever said relocation had to entail leaving the state. The A's could sidle an hour south to San Jose, a place they've been blocked from moving to in the past by the San Francisco Giants. In this scenario, we have to pretend MLB would be motivated to convince the Giants to waiver their territorial rights. If that sounds outlandish, well, that's what you get when a team threatens to relocate.