With the loss of the NBA’s Kings all but certain, Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson has decided to turn his sights elsewhere, according to the Associated Press (via Sports Illustrated). Specifically, Johnson has intentions of luring an MLB team to the city, and he only has to look about 80 miles down I-80 to find a team in need of a new home.
By now, it should be readily apparent that the Athletics will never get the new Oakland stadium that the franchise so desperately needs.
The A’s are the only team that shares its home stadium with a team from another sport; the NFL’s Raiders also occupy O.co Coliseum with the A's. Most everyone agrees that the stadium is far more suited to football than baseball, as the A’s listed capacity of 35,097 barely covers half of the 63,026 seats that are used by the Raiders.
A new 32,000-seat stadium, often referred to as Cisco Field, has been in the works since at least 2006.
Both Fremont and San Jose have been considered as likely homes for the stadium, but the San Francisco Giants have a territorial claim on Santa Clara County and have blocked the A’s from moving there on numerous occasions (even if it would move the A’s further away than they are now).
It is this last reason why Sacramento should be an appealing option, as there is no team that currently has territorial rights to the city.
Sacramento is not considered a part of the Bay Area, but it is close enough to Oakland that the A’s would not have to completely start over in building a fanbase. They would also not have to worry about starting new rivalries, as the A’s would still fit perfectly into the AL West and could keep the Giants as their primary interleague foe.
Sacramento is also a state capital, meaning that the inflow of money to the city is not reliant on an industry that could go boom or bust at any given time.
The A’s would still be considered a small-market franchise, but the city limits of Sacramento are greater in population than that of Oakland. The metro area is larger than current MLB cities Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City and Milwaukee.
A move to Sacramento (along with the departure of the Kings) would also give the A’s a unique distinction in MLB: They would be the only franchise that does not have to share their city with a team from another major professional sport. This could give the A’s a nice advantage over other small-market teams, as the attention and entertainment dollars from Sacramento would not be as divided as it is in other cities.
To be fair, this last point could be either good or bad. The NFL has experienced both with Green Bay and Jacksonville, while seven NBA teams and 10 NHL teams also share this distinction and have experienced mixed results. Still, it would make the A’s unique among MLB clubs, as they would have a metro area completely to themselves.
If Sacramento can put together a nice offer to build Cisco Field, the Athletics should not hesitate to move. From every possible angle, Sacramento looks like the smoothest transition for the A’s franchise.