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Published on June 15, 2023
Las Vegas Awaits Oakland A's as Nevada Legislature Approves Funding Amid Fan ProtestsGetty Images

The Nevada Legislature approved $380 million in public funding for the Oakland A's planned Las Vegas ballpark, overcoming a significant hurdle in their quest to relocate. With the majority Democratic Assembly voting 25-15 and the state Senate accepting the bill, it now lands on the desk of Republican Governor Joe Lombardo, who is expected to sign it according to The Mercury News. However, the final decision over the A's move still rests with Major League Baseball.

While progress is being made in the political arena, the situation was quite different back in Oakland. Fans, unhappy about the team's potential relocation, staged a "reverse boycott" at a recent home game, filling the Coliseum and loudly chanting "sell the team" to demonstrate their disapproval towards billionaire owner John Fisher reported by AP News. This season's largest crowd on a Tuesday, 27,759 in attendance, showed their support to keep the A's in Oakland and expressed their desire for a change in ownership.

The proposed $1.5 billion, 30,000-seat ballpark in Las Vegas would be the smallest in the Major League Baseball series, and although it does not directly raise taxes, it has renewed the debate over utilizing public funds for private sports clubs.

Many Assembly members who supported the bill emphasized the potential economic benefits of bringing the A's to Las Vegas, countering the objections raised by critics that public money should not be spent on sports stadiums. The substantial financial support does not come without strings attached - the A's have agreed to include numerous community benefits such as homelessness prevention measures and paid family leave.

As fans continue to rally for the team to remain in Oakland, the A's themselves acknowledge that their relationship with the city has always been a complicated one. With the team's lease at the Coliseum due to expire in 2024 and a new stadium in Vegas unlikely to be completed by the previously planned 2027 deadline, questions linger over where the A's will play in the intervening years. A's President Dave Kaval has suggested the possibility of the team playing at the Las Vegas Ballpark, their minor league affiliate's arena, which has a capacity of only 10,000 seats.

Amid the uncertainty, Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao remains committed to retaining the A's, stating, "The A's have been part of Oakland for more than half a century, and they belong in this city". Even with the recent approval from the Nevada Legislature and significant fan opposition, the ultimate fate of the Oakland A's, whether in Las Vegas or back in their home city, is still far from being determined.