By Jim Tortolano/Orange County Tribune
The Oakland Athletics, who have been known by many names since the franchise started in 1901, now deserve a new name.
The Oakland Lame Ducks.
It’s official: the worst team in Major League Baseball, playing in one of the worst stadiums in Major League Baseball, will be following the examples of the NFL Raiders and “Go southwest.”
According to the Associated Press, the A’s have plans to relocate to Las Vegas and move into a brand-new climate-controlled facility of 30,000 to 35,000 by 2027.
The projected size is a little odd; only the venerable Fenway Park in Boston has a capacity in the mid-30s, but that makes a bit more sense when you factor in the tons of cash that come in from TV broadcasts, stadium naming rights, etc. It’s pretty much impossible to lose money from a big league franchise these days.
Plus, there’s also a potential emotional factor here; smaller stadiums are more intimate, giving fans a closer, better look at the field and can foster a kind of “club atmosphere” familiar to soccer (“world football”).
The real puzzle is the interim between the Bay Area and the Barren Desert. The A’s are bound by contract to stay in Oakland through 2024, and their new taj mahal won’t be ready for three seasons after that.
Unlike the Rams, there’s no venue similar to the L.A. Coliseum that the A’s could hunker into until 2027. So, the most likely outcome is that the A’s will be a Dead Team Walking for the near future.
Last year, a miserable team drew only 787,902 fans, about one-third the attendance of a mediocre Angels team. Even when they made the playoffs in 2019 and won 97 games, the gate was 1.6 million, 13th of 15 American League teams. Can you imagine how much more slowly the turnstiles will spin in the baseball twilight zone before the team leaves for Clark County?
So, like the Flying Dutchman of legend, the Philadelphia-Kansas City-Oakland A’s will continue to sail into the unknown. And if Las Vegas is a bust, I hear that New Orleans could be a nice spot to wash ashore.