The Oakland Athletics announced on Tuesday they will begin exploring relocation options after receiving the go-ahead from Major League Baseball. The A's declaration is likely designed to scare the local government into approving their plans for a new waterfront ballpark at the Howard Terminal site. While the team's proposal includes a privately financed stadium, it also requires an $855 million commitment from the city to invest in and improve infrastructure, per ESPN's Jeff Passan.
The A's threat may as well be lifted from a book called "Sports Stadium Negotiation 101." Teams who haven't found a way to sweet talk politicians into funding their playhouses will, in due time, turn to strong-arming them. Politicians go along for the ride for several reasons, including the fear of losing their next election (should a team make good on its warning) and the joy they feel at being able to point at objects they helped build. It's debatable whether the deals are ever actually good for the cities that go along with them -- and that debate exists only because it's hard to place a number on civic pride. The actual economic impact is often trifling, at best.
The Athletics, however, are at least one step closer to relocating. The A's, should they move, would become only the third MLB team in the last 50 years to relocate, joining the Texas Rangers (who moved from D.C. in the '70s) and the Washington Nationals (who moved to D.C. in 2005). Where might the A's wind up in this scenario? Here are five candidates.
1. Las Vegas
We'll start with Las Vegas because it would be poetic, albeit in an unfortunate sense, for Oakland to lose another professional sports team to Sin City. The NFL's Raiders made the move in 2020, joining the NHL's Golden Knights as the city's first major professional sports teams. Las Vegas has long hosted a minor-league affiliate, and the legalization of gambling and continued existence of other pro sports teams without a headline-grabbing incident stemming from the city's nightlife has presumably helped MLB warm up to the idea of doing business there. The Athletics would still make geographic sense for the American League West, which is a plus.
Again, moving to Portland would allow the A's (or whatever they're supposed to be called at that point) to remain in the West. It would give the Seattle Mariners a natural geographic rival, too.