Looking For Options: The Future of The Oakland A's
Oakland, CA simply cannot support the Oakland Athletics. Moved to Oakland from Kansas City for the 1968 season after the completion of the then state-of-the-art Coliseum in Oakland, the team has enjoyed profound success in the “other” city by the Bay – capturing 4 World Series Championships and 7 AL Pennants since 1968. Their time in the Oakland sun, however is fading fast. Here are the reasons why relocation is the only answer to the A’s small-market dilemma and potential (and theoretical) new homes for the vagabond A’s.
Reason #1: Attendance
The City of Oakland simply can’t get behind its team: Over the past 5 years, the A’s have ranked an average of 28th in total attendance. With so few fans attending games, the franchise lacks the cash necessary to pursue top tier talent that its more popular rivals can. Without marquee players, fan interest and support dwindles. The A's are stuck in a vicious downward spiral.
Reason #2: Ticket Prices
The Oakland A’s have an average ticket price of $22.04, 3.3% below the league average. With fewer fans flocking to the gate, the A’s have had to lower ticket prices to compensate for less fan demand. Not only are the A's lagging in attendance, but they can't get as much money out of their fans the do make it to the games. Not a profitable combination.
Reason #3: The Oakland Coliseum
The Coliseum is an antiquated stadium at best. Long past its prime, the Coliseum hasn't been fit for baseball since the addition of "Mount Davis" in 1996. Further, the Coliseum will be the only football-baseball facility in use in the US in a few short years. With the recent push for baseball-only stadiums in Major League Baseball, the monstrosity that is the Coliseum leaves the A’s at a disadvantage. Who wants to see a baseball game when half the stadium is covered in green tarps? The atmosphere for baseball is simply depressing. Faltering attendance, depressed ticket prices, and a dilapidated stadium spell a move for a franchise that can’t raise the money needed to sign to tier talent. Realistically, how can the A’s expect to be competitive when they can’t afford to sign players? They can't. Here are a few suggestions for a new home.
The Most Likely: San Jose, CA
Not only is San Jose a larger city capable of supporting multiple sports franchise but it’s also a wealthier city favored by many in the organization. Though currently in the designated territory of the San Francisco Giants, San Jose would be a great fit for the franchise because it allows for the retention of the A's Bay Area fan base. Wealthier then Oakland due to its burgeoning High Tech sector, San Jose would allow the A’s to charge higher ticket prices for home games – wealthier fans will pay more at the gate and spend more at home games. The only thing standing in the way of a move is the San Francisco Giants and the President of Major League Baseball, who recently asked San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed to pull a ballot measure off the November elections. According to mayor Reed San Jose has, “strong community support to build a privately funded ballpark.” Looks like the A’s could find a home that could support them only 30 minutes from Oakland.
Waiting In The Wings: Portland, OR
Portland, OR has a strong history of supporting its hometown Trailblazers of the NBA. When the Montreal Expos were moved to Washington, DC, Portland was on the short list of cities Major League Baseball was considering for the franchise. While a move to Portland would crush the A’s Bay Area fan base, Portland could prove to be a viable option for the club – a minor league ballpark downtown already exists in the City of Roses and the city has a wildly engaged population that could embrace the team. Lastly, with excellent public transportation and a metro-area population of 2.2 million, the area could easily support another franchise in its midst.
Darkhorse Candidate: Las Vegas
Nobody wants a team in Vegas except Vegas. Though its reputation for sports betting has made it an unsavory option for professional sports in the past, the city may just be ready for the A’s. Long yearning for a pro-sports franchise to diversify its gaming-based economy, Sin City, with a metro-area population of nearly 2 million would be a great option for the A’s. With no sports team to call their own except for the UNLV Rebels, the city seems starved for professional competition.