The Triple-A's: Athletics announce temporary move to Sacramento minor league park before Vegas

ByTim Keown ESPN logo
Friday, April 5, 2024
A's announce interim move to Sacramento minor league park before Vegas
The Athletics announce a temporary move to a minor league park in Sacramento in 2025 before their Las Vegas residency.

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Athletics will leave Oakland after the 2024 season and play at least three years in a minor league ballpark in West Sacramento, the team and Oakland officials announced early Thursday morning.

The move ends the Athletics' 56-year tenure in the East Bay, a stretch that included four World Series championships, though the current team appears to be headed for its third consecutive 100-loss season.

The agreement with Sacramento is a three-year lease for 2025 to 2027 with a team option for 2028 in case the planned ballpark on the Las Vegas Strip is not completed in time. The Athletics will share Sutter Health Park -- which has 10,624 permanent seats with lawn seating that boosts capacity to roughly 14,000 -- with the Sacramento River Cats, the San Francisco Giants' Triple-A team. Sutter Health Park is about 85 miles northeast of the Oakland Coliseum.

Athletics president Dave Kaval called Oakland chief of staff Leigh Hanson at 7:36 a.m. PT to inform her of the team's decision. Owner John Fisher followed five minutes later with a call to Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao, and the team announced its move on social media 10 minutes after that.

"We explored several locations for a temporary home, including the Oakland Coliseum," Fisher said in a statement. "Even with the long-standing relationships and good intentions on all sides in the negotiations with Oakland, the conditions to achieve an agreement seemed out of reach. We understand the disappointment this news brings to our fans, as this season marks our final one in Oakland."

The Athletics and Oakland had their final negotiating meeting Tuesday at the A's offices, where city representatives presented a five-year lease offer with a team opt-out after three. In that offer, the Athletics would have been responsible for a $97 million "extension fee" that would have been due in full even if the team chose to opt out. The Athletics currently pay $1.25 million per season to rent the Coliseum and the increased cost was the main sticking point in the negotiations, sources said.

In the hours after that meeting, Oakland officials reached out to the Athletics with a revised offer: a three-year lease and a $60 million extension fee. That offer was contingent on Major League Baseball agreeing to a one-year exclusive right to solicit ownership for a future expansion team in Oakland. Sources indicated the Athletics were receptive to the new offer, but the team met with Sacramento officials less than 24 hours later and quickly agreed to a deal.

"Oakland offered a deal that was fair to the A's and was fiscally responsible for our city," Thao said in a statement. "We wish the A's the best and will continue our conversations with them on facilitating the sale of their share of the Coliseum site. The City of Oakland will now focus on advancing redevelopment efforts at the Coliseum."

Central to the deal in Sacramento is Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé, a friend of Fisher's and the owner of the River Cats. Sources said he views the Athletics' temporary residence in Sacramento as an audition for an MLB expansion team in the future.

"I'm thrilled to welcome the A's to Sutter Health Park, where players and fans alike can enjoy a world-class baseball experience and create unforgettable memories," Ranadivé said in a statement. "Today marks the next chapter of professional sports in Sacramento. The passion of our fans is second to none, and this is an incredible opportunity to showcase one of the most dynamic and vibrant markets in the country."

VIDEO: Oakland A's say they're 'far apart' with city officials on terms of Coliseum lease extension

Oakland Athletics say they're 'far apart' with city officials on terms of lease extension to keep team at Coliseum

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred thanked the Kings and leaders in the Sacramento area for getting an agreement done.

Fisher owns half of the Oakland Coliseum property and has not attended a game since Kaval called Thao on April 19, 2023, to inform her of an agreement to move the team to Las Vegas. The sale of the Athletics' portion of the Coliseum site was a requirement of Oakland's offer. Hanson indicated the Athletics remain motivated to sell the site despite the decision to move to Sacramento.

The Athletics are off to a 1-5 start and have drawn an average of 6,438 fans at the Coliseum through those six games. Fans dubbed this the "Summer of Boycott," which began on Opening Day, when thousands of fans protested Fisher's ownership by going to the game but remaining in the parking lot throughout.

Jorge Leon, the president of the Oakland 68s, one of two fan groups that has organized boycotts and consulted with the city on its sports future, said he was "just really disappointed" by Thursday's announcement.

"Seems like everyone is against Oakland, even regionally," Leon said. "You'd think a guy like Vivek and Sacramento would've understood what we're fighting for, but yet they're facilitating the move. It just goes to show you that the structure of American sports fails communities. It won't change until actual change has been made at the legislative level, but even then those in the capitol have also failed us."

MLB owners unanimously approved the Athletics' relocation to Las Vegas after Fisher entered into an agreement to build a ballpark in the parking lot of the Tropicana Casino and Resort on the Las Vegas Strip. The team received $380 million in public funding from the Nevada State Legislature to build an estimated $1.5 billion stadium that -- if all goes according to plan -- will open for the 2028 season.

"Throughout this season, we will honor and celebrate our time in Oakland," Fisher's statement read, "and will share additional details soon.

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