It appears Las Vegas has settled nicely into the role of “city every sports franchise threatens to move to”, and now they’ve landed the Raiders (starting as soon as 2019) as well as the NHL’s expansion Golden Knights (starting next season.)
That Las Vegas actually landed two teams makes it an even bigger threat. This is similar to Seinfeld, after Jerry is briefly engaged. After, he finds women who know this are attracted to him, knowing he’s willing to go all the way to the altar. (Seinfeld, in retrospect, may have had quite a few gender issues, but this is just a metaphor.) Now that other leagues have broken the Las Vegas dam (not that one), Vegas becomes a legitimate option for leagues that may have been reticent up to now.
Enter MLB commissioner Rob Manfred:
According to the Chicago Tribune, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred told a group of sports editors “if we were looking at relocation, Las Vegas would be on the list.” He then added that “until the Tampa Bay and Oakland situations are settled, I can’t see talking about expansion.”
Hey, that’s a fun little bit of leverage from the commissioner! Las Vegas currently supports the AAA Las Vegas 51s, the Pacific Coast League affiliate of the New York Mets. Oakland did not take kindly to the raising of this particular specter:
— Oakland A's ??⚾️ (@Athletics) April 21, 2017
Though that tweet is light on details, the A’s have seemingly recommitted to the idea of working out an Oakland solution. They responded to Friday’s report more thoroughly, as well:
A’s president Dave Kaval reiterated the team’s position.
“We’re building in Oakland,” Kaval told the Bay Area News Group. “All of our effort is going into that. We’re working with all our stakeholders to get this done. We’re looking at four sites in Oakland and we’re on target to announce the site and the timeline this year… We’re committed to Oakland.”
The team has gone in an all-Oakland mode, including having “Rooted in Oakland” as its marketing campaign for this season, underscoring the team’s ties to the city.
That’s a strikingly quick rebuttal to Manfred’s point, and it’s odd that the team’s ownership would seemingly be at odds with the commissioner. Perhaps they’re letting Manfred be the bad guy, so as to not anger local fans, while still putting pressure on area lawmakers in an effort to make the new stadium a reality?
That’s a fascinating bit of good cop/bad cop, if it’s the case, but it makes a bit of sense. Of course, it would also make sense for Manfred to put more pressure on the Giants, who have had their own hand in preventing the A’s from moving forward with various stadium plans in the Bay Area.
We’ll have to wait and see if Oakland ownership actually comes through with local stadium plans by the end of the year, as their vague timeline has promised all along. But Manfred dropping Las Vegas specifically is fascinating, as even if it’s not Oakland, it’s a sign that Sin City is likely the next potential target for MLB relocation.