LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — What are they saying in Oakland now that the A’s have a deal to build a $1.5 billion stadium on the Las Vegas Strip?
“Oaklanders know better than anyone that it’s a long road between state legislation and shovels in the ground,” according to a statement from the Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao on Wednesday.
“In fact, California passed three pieces of state legislation to support the A’s new ballpark at Howard Terminal and look where we are now,” Thao said.
“Whatever happens in Nevada, our focus is on doing what’s best for Oakland, and our commitment to fiscal responsibility and expanding economic opportunity for all our residents will not waver,” Thao said.
The deal struck Wednesday and passed by the Nevada Legislature — it’s still waiting for Gov. Joe Lombardo’s signature — contributes as much as $380 million in public funding for the stadium. Despite strong protests on social media and in testimony at the Legislature, lawmakers passed it. The A’s are expected to begin playing in the stadium on the Las Vegas Strip when the 2028 season begins.
The deal calls for the A’s to kick in the first $100 million in funding before any public funds are used.
“The A’s have been part of Oakland for more than half a century, and they belong in this city. As Congresswoman (Barbara) Lee noted, there is no better place to show MLB’s commitment to diversity than in Oakland, one of the most diverse cities in the nation — and there is no city that has worked harder to meet the needs of a team than Oakland. If the A’s current ownership wants to move to Las Vegas, they should seek an expansion team and leave the A’s in Oakland,” Thao said.
Fans in Oakland are distraught, comparing losing the A’s to “a death in the family.”
“It’s too new and it’s too fresh,” Bryan Johansen, an Oakland A’s fan, told KRON in the Bay Area. “Thank God the next game’s not for a while because it’s really hard and I don’t think people could walk in that stadium without crying right now.”
Johansen, showing an Athletics tattoo on his forearm, said, “Will I follow them to Vegas? … Of course, I’m going to follow to some capacity. But will I be doing theme nights every Friday night? No, I live in the Bay Area. How am I going to get to Vegas every Friday night? Are they going to pay me to come there? No, they’re not.”
Thao isn’t the only one who said an expansion team was a better option for Las Vegas.
Philadelphia Phillies star Bryce Harper told USA TODAY Sports, “I feel sorry for the fans in Oakland.”
Harper, a Las Vegas resident and probably the biggest current name in Major League Baseball with a connection to the city, said, “It’s just not right. They have so much history in Oakland. You’re taking a team out of a city. I’m pretty sad because of all of the history and all of the greatness they’ve seen there.”
“Look at the Knights, they won the Cup, but they were an expansion franchise. They were Vegas-born, as people would say. It’s the first team that came to Vegas. I don’t think you can really match that,” Harper said.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred echoed Harper’s feelings. “I feel sorry for the fans in Oakland. I do not like this outcome. I understand why they feel the way they do,” he said at the MLB owners’ meeting in New York City.
USA TODAY also spoke to Bryson Stott, Harper’s teammate and also a Las Vegas resident. He was born in Las Vegas and played at UNLV.
“We would rather see an expansion team than a relocated team,” Stott said. “That’s why fans are so crazy about the Knights. It’s Vegas’ first team. It’s ours. It was kind of easy for people to gravitate towards that. Vegas wasn’t a big hockey town. It is now.”
The Phillies open a three-game series in Oakland Friday.