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News / Sports / National Sports

Athletics announce plans to play next 3 seasons in minor league park near Sacramento

Last season of Major League Baseball in Oakland

By SOPHIE AUSTIN, Associated Press
Published: April 4, 2024, 11:03am
3 Photos
Sutter Health Park, home of the Triple A team Sacramento River Cats, is shown in West Sacramento, Calif., Thursday, April 4, 2024. The Oakland Athletics announced the decision to play at the home of the Sacramento River Cats from 2025-27 with an option for 2028 on Thursday after being unable to reach an agreement to extend their lease in Oakland during that time.
Sutter Health Park, home of the Triple A team Sacramento River Cats, is shown in West Sacramento, Calif., Thursday, April 4, 2024. The Oakland Athletics announced the decision to play at the home of the Sacramento River Cats from 2025-27 with an option for 2028 on Thursday after being unable to reach an agreement to extend their lease in Oakland during that time. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli) Photo Gallery

WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Athletics will leave Oakland after this season and play temporarily at a minor league park near Sacramento until their planned new stadium in Las Vegas is built.

The A’s announced the decision to play at the home of the Sacramento River Cats from 2025-27 with an option for 2028 on Thursday after being unable to reach an agreement to extend their lease in Oakland during that time.

Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé, who also owns the minor league River Cats, said the region has the potential to become a “mecca for sports.”

“We have an incredible community and a passionate fan base — the best fans in the world,” Ranadivé said. “Today’s announcement marks the next chapter of professional sports in Sacramento.”

Ranadivé joined A’s owner John Fisher and local officials to announce the news at Sutter Health Park in West Sacramento, where the A’s will play for the next three seasons. The stadium is right across from the historic yellow Tower Bridge that connects the city with downtown Sacramento.

It is in an area where new restaurants, bars and apartment complexes have opened up in recent years and is about a mile from the state Capitol and the NBA arena where the Sacramento Kings play. The stadium has 10,624 fixed seats and can currently hold 14,014 fans with lawn seating and standing room.

Ranadivé hopes the move is a step toward the Sacramento region eventually hosting a permanent MLB team.

Fisher said West Sacramento was among several locations, including the Oakland Coliseum, considered for the team’s temporary home.

“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,” he said in a statement, adding that he understands the move will disappoint many fans.

Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao said in a statement that the city “offered a deal that was fair to the A’s and was fiscally responsible for our city.” Thao said the city will now work on acquiring the A’s rights to the Coliseum site and focus on redevelopment efforts in the area.

Paul Freedman, co-founder of the Oakland Ballers, called the news of the move heart-breaking but said he is proud that fans will still be able to root for the newly-formed minor league team.

“Today is a tough day, but you can’t be beaten if you never give up,” Freedman said in a statement. “Let’s build something great together.”

The A’s announced their intention last April to move to Las Vegas, and MLB owners unanimously approved the application to relocate in November.

The team is baseball’s most transient. Las Vegas will be the fifth home for a franchise that started as the Philadelphia Athletics from 1901-54, then played in Kansas City through 1967 before moving to Oakland.

The decision angered the fans in Oakland and the team’s previously low attendance dropped precipitously with the club drawing a league-low 832,352 fans to the outdated Coliseum last season. The A’s drew 13,522 fans on opening night this year with a few thousand others protesting Fisher in the parking lot, and failed to reach 7,000 fans in any of the next six games.

But Thursday’s news is welcome for baseball fans around Sacramento. West Sacramento Mayor Martha Guerrero said the move will help put the city “on the map” and bring in new business for local bars and restaurants.

“We’re going to make this beautiful, intimate place a welcoming, embracing environment,” she said. “We are so excited for this historic day because it’s been a dream of West Sacramento to have a major league team here.”

The stadium will likely need additional work to upgrade clubhouses, batting and other facilities in order to host a major league team.

“The MLBPA has had preliminary discussions with MLB about a range of issues related to the temporary relocation and we expect those discussions to continue,” the players union said in a statement.

The team will be simply known as the Athletics, or A’s, without a city designation during the stay in Sacramento.

The River Cats will still play in their stadium the next three years and share it with the A’s.

By staying in Northern California, the A’s are hopeful of keeping a large share of their local television rights held by NBC Sports California, which is worth a reported $67 million a year.

With the A’s leaving Oakland after this season, the Coliseum complex that once was also home to the NFL’s Raiders, the NBA’s Warriors and the NHL’s Seals will have no major sports teams.

Those teams combined to win 10 championships while in Oakland — four each for the A’s and Warriors and two for the Raiders. The only cities with more combined titles in MLB, the NBA and NFL since the A’s arrived in Oakland in 1968 are Los Angeles, Boston and New York.

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AP Sports Writer Josh Dubow in Oakland and AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum in New York contributed to this report.

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