LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Another Bay Area sports team is exploring a move to Southern Nevada.
Four and a half years ago, the NFL approved the Raiders move from Oakland to Las Vegas. Now, it’s the Athletics who have an interest in moving to the desert.
The Raiders and Allegiant Stadium are proof that with the right vision, timing and funding that Las Vegas can accommodate further professional sports teams.
"You rip this team out of Oakland, you rip its whole identity," said one longtime Oakland A's fan at a recent Oakland City Council meeting.
He wasn't the only one. A's fans spent hours at that meeting expressing their disdain and disgust over the idea the city could lose its second pro team to Las Vegas in two years.
"Losing three professional sports teams within a span of five years is nothing to be proud of, OK? Quite frankly, if that happens, it's going to be an embarrassment," said another fan, including the Warriors recent move from Oakland to San Francisco.
"I remember when my friends and I hung up our raiders jerseys for the last time when they left Oakland. Please, don't make a generation of kids relegate their A's jerseys to the closet, too," said another A's fan.
So, how did Oakland fans get here?
In 2015, Oakland's mayor said the city was unwilling to spend taxpayer money on a new Raiders stadium. Las Vegas was willing to do what Oakland wasn't. In 2017, the NFL approved the silver and black's move to sin city, devastating the team's die-hard fans.
"I was heartbroken, to be honest," said one member of the Raiders famous fan base known as the Black Hole.
"It's like a divorce. You've got mom and dad. Oakland is mom, dad is in Vegas, and we're the kids. We're in the middle, we're stuck," said Gorilla Rilla, another member of the Black Hole
But the move quickly paid off for the team. By January of 2020, the Raiders ticket sales at the brand new Allegiant Stadium were exceeding expectations, with help from fans coming from California.
"We specifically picked where we're going to sit. We got the front row. We'll be right there," said members of the Black Hole, reiterating their commitment to travel from Oakland to Las Vegas for Raiders home games.
Fast forward to that contentious Oakland City council meeting in July of 2021. The city finds itself in a similar situation once again, either pitch in public money to build a new ballpark, or risk losing another team to Las Vegas.
Oakland City Council voted 6-1 to continue talks with the team, but it's clear the two sides are still far apart.
"I just really want to stress that voting 'Yes' on something that we don't agree with or we don't have consensus around is not an effective path forward," said A's team president Dave Kaval about the proposed ballpark agreement.
"If the A's are not happy with what was produced today and are still talking about leaving after the city has bent over backward, I don't know where we go from here after doing somersaults, after receiving insults, after being disrespected," responded Oakland City Council member Carroll Fife.
Jeremy Aguero, a principal analyst at Applied Analysis in Las Vegas, says it's hard to handicap the odds of the A's leaving for Las Vegas, but he feels the talk of Las Vegas overtaking Oakland's teams is unfair.
"Yes, that's what's gotten a lot of attention in the media. But I think the actual attention that we're getting is because of the success of the Golden Knights, because of the success of the Raiders, because our population continues to grow, because our visitor infrastructure, we've got 150,000 hotel rooms, 300,000 leisure and hospitality workers, the second biggest origination-destination airport in the United States - obviously very important. Those are the things that are drawing attention to us. And if the Raiders are as successful as we hope they will be this season, I think you're going to hear a lot more about that," said Aguero.
It's not just the A's looking at Las Vegas. MLS and the NBA have reportedly shown interest in bringing expansion teams to Southern Nevada.