Luis Medina of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays in the top of the first inning at RingCentral Coliseum on June 14, 2023 in Oakland, California. A bill to provide public funds to help finance a new stadium for the A’s in Las Vegas, Nevada, passed that state’s legislature during the game. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
By Leif Skodnick
World Baseball Network
OAKLAND, Calif. – Each night, last call draws nearer at the last dive bar.
An hour and a half before Wednesday’s game between the Oakland A’s and the Tampa Bay Rays, the Nevada Assembly passed a bill by a vote of 22-15 that would allocate $380 million in funding towards a $1.5 billion ballpark on the Las Vegas Strip – another big step closer to the A’s franchise abandoning Oakland for Sin City.
On Tuesday, 27,759 fans filled the RingCentral Coliseum in a fan-organized “reverse boycott,” in an effort to show A’s owner John Fisher and Major League Baseball that a rabid fan base still exists in Oakland. Hours before that game, the A’s seventh win in a row in front of the largest crowd of the season, the Nevada Senate passed a different version of the bill that was then amended and passed by the state senate.
By the time the bottom of the second inning rolled around, with a crowd a fraction of the size of Tuesday night’s in the Coliseum, the Nevada Assembly passed a revised version of the bill, which will head to the desk of Governor Joseph Lombardo (R), who is expected to sign it into law.
“Tonight, we thank the members of the Nevada State Legislature and their staff for their hard work, due diligence, and attention to detail as we work to bring the Athletics to Las Vegas,” the A’s said in a statement released during Wednesday night’s game. “We are especially grateful for the legislators’ time and dedication to shepherding this bill through the process, including the special session. We look forward to Governor Lombardo’s signature as our next step.”
The A’s would then only have to get approval from 75% of Major League Baseball’s owners before they could relocate the team to Las Vegas, a vote that is widely expected to pass. Potentially, due to the perceived urgency of the A’s need to move out of Oakland, a relocation fee would be waived.
While the state would put up $385 million in funding, the A’s ownership group are expected to finance the other $1.1 billion to get the ballpark built.
A Major League Baseball team has not relocated since the Montreal Expos moved to Washington, D.C. following the 2004 season, after several years of management by Major League Baseball. The Expos’ attendance had declined following the 1994 strike by the Major League Baseball Players Association, which came at a time that the team was 74-40 and leading the National League East. The ownership didn’t sign key players as they became free agents, and the team’s fortunes went south on the field and, consequently, in the stands, before the team ultimately moved south.
“Oaklanders know better than anyone that it’s a long road between state legislation and shovels in the ground,” Oakland Mayor Thao’s office said in a statement to the Wall Street Journal. “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.”
On Tuesday, the night that the A’s cleared the biggest hurdle between them and the finish line on their race to a new home, they lost to the Tampa Bay Rays 6-3, ending their seven-game winning streak in front of 7,055 fans.
With the governor expected to sign the bill, the ballpark one A’s fan group has termed “Baseball’s Last Dive Bar” is nearing closing time.