Athletics select Sacramento as interim home before Las Vegas

The Sporting Tribune's Bill Bradley details the Athletics' decision to play in Sacramento for three years before moving to Las Vegas.

The Oakland Athletics, who will be moving to Las Vegas in 2028, have agreed to make Sacramento their interim home for the next three seasons, the American League team announced Thursday.

Sutter Health Park, home of the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats in West Sacramento, will host the Athletics for 2025, 2026 and 2027 ahead of the A’s move to Las Vegas in 2028, when their stadium opens on the site of the former Tropicana resort. The deal has an option for fourth year should there be construction delays.

“We explored several locations for a temporary home, including the Oakland Coliseum,” A’s owner and managing partner John Fisher said in a statement. “Even with the long-standing relationship and good intentions on all sides in the negotiations with Oakland, the conditions to achieve an agreement seemed out of reach.

“We understand the disappointment this news brings to our fans, as this season marks our final one in Oakland. Throughout this season, we will honor and celebrate our time in Oakland, and will share additional details soon. We extend our appreciation to the Kings and the City of West Sacramento, and look forward to making Sutter Health Park our home until our new ballpark opens in Las Vegas.”

The deal is expected to get approval from Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association. Sutter Health Park holds 14,014 fans and will need upgrades, including new major league clubhouses to accommodate the new tenants and their opponents.

“On behalf of all of MLB, I want to express my appreciation to West Sacramento, Sutter Health Park, the Kings and the greater Sacramento region for their excitement to host the A’s for interim play, as the A’s new permanent home is built in Las Vegas,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said.

Officials of the Sacramento River Cats, the Triple-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants, said they “weren’t going anywhere” and will share the stadium. The San Francisco Chronicle reported the River could play some games at Oracle Park.

The River Cats are owned by Vivek Ranadive, who brokered the deal and is a close friend of Fisher. Ranadive also owns the NBA Sacramento Kings, bought the minor-league baseball team two years ago for about $100 million. He has said this deal would be an audition for a permanent MLB franchise.

“I’m thrilled to welcome the A’s to Sutter Health Park, where players and fans alike can enjoy a world-class baseball experience and create unforgettable memories,” Ranadive said in a statement. Today marks the next chapter of professional sports in Sacramento.

“The passion of our fans is second to none, and this is an incredible opportunity to showcase one of the most dynamic and vibrant markets in the country.”

Athletics-Oakland talks broke down

The Athletics were negotiating an extension of their league with Oakland Coliseum until this week.

However, the City of Oakland wanted to charge the Athletics $97 million rent to extend the lease 3-5 years as well as assistance in replacing the team with an MLB expansion franchise. The Athletics, who received $67 last year in a TV contract with NBC Sports California, were reportedly able to negotiate new terms with the regional sports network because Sacramento is still in their coverage area.

They turned to Sacramento officials on Wednesday and their deal was announced Thursday morning. It was not announced how much rent the Athletics will pay to play in Sacramento.

“Oakland offered a deal that was fair to the A’s and was fiscally responsible for our city,” Oakland mayor Sheng Thao said in a statement. “We wish the A’s the best and will continue our conversations with them on facilitating the sale of their share of the Coliseum site. The City of Oakland will now focus on advancing redevelopment efforts at the Coliseum.”

The decision ends the team’s 57 years in Oakland, taking a team that won four World Series titles, six AL championships, 17 AL West titles in the city. Attendance has dwindled the past 20 years with one season eclipsing two million fans since 2005.

The Athletics had been searching for a new stadium site for more than two decades. After hitting a wall in the Bay Area, the Athletics seemed to have found a solution in the Howard Terminal waterfront area of Oakland five years ago.

However, the Athletics and Oakland couldn’t agree on a myriad of issues — from financing to affordable housing — causing the team to look at Oakland and Las Vegas on “parallel paths” two years ago, according to team president Dave Kaval.

After getting Nevada to help finance a domed stadium on the Strip, the Athletics applied to leave Oakland on Aug. 23. MLB owners unanimously approved the move on Nov. 16.

The A’s fans have been openly hostile to ownership before the announcement of the move, urging Fisher to sell the team and staging boycotts and reverse boycotts at Oakland Coliseum.

Search for interim home ends

The Athletics, whose lease at the Coliseum expires after this season, opted not to play the next three seasons at the Triple-A Las Vegas Ballpark because of Las Vegas’ summer heat. Players Association officials intimated they wouldn’t approve such a move for an open-air ballpark in the desert.

“Sacramento is passionate about baseball,” Sacramento mayor Darrell Steinberg said in a statement. “Sacramento has an indomitable spirit. I am grateful to Vivek Ranadive and the Sacramento Kings for continuously uplifting our city. Success breeds more success.

That said, the average temperature in July and August in Sacramento is 91 and 92 degrees, respectively.

The team’s home until the Las Vegas stadium opens remained an issue for the Athletics until this week. They considered the Coliseum, Sutter Health Park and the Salt Lake Bee’s new stadium, which is scheduled to open in 2025.

Sacramento while Kaval said last month the Athletics hope to play two or three regular-season series each of the next three seasons at Las Vegas Ballpark.

Still at issue is the Coliseum property, which is half owed by Fisher. He was asked by Oakland officials to sell his portion so they could develop for other uses, including housing the city’s two minor-league soccer teams.