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The Wandering Athletics Right-Size Their Operation To A Rinky-Dink Minor-League Park In Sacramento

The minor-league park in Sacramento.
Carlos Avila Gonzalez/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

The Oakland Athletics announced Thursday that they will play the next three seasons at a minor-league ballpark in Sacramento, as they prepare to relocate their gutted baseball operation to an unwanted and as-yet unfinanced and unfinalized quote-unquote permanent stadium along the Las Vegas Strip. The deal hammered out between Athletics owner John Fisher and Vivek Ranadivé, the owner of the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats, will have the A's sharing a West Sacramento stadium with a fixed-seat capacity of 10,624 fans, through the end of the 2027 baseball season, with an option for a fourth year.

The city of Oakland and Alameda County made a final overture to Fisher's representatives at a meeting on Tuesday, offering a five-year lease extension at the Oakland Coliseum, where the team draws almost zero fans and the owner is broadly hated. That meeting was apparently cordial enough but didn't go real well: After it was over, an A's representative reported that the sides "are far apart on the terms needed to agree on an extension." Alameda County supervisor David Haubert acknowledged, per the San Francisco Chronicle, that the extension offer contained "a lot of moving parts," including an extension fee that The Athletic reported was reduced in the final offer from $97 million to $60 million, conversion fees for sharing the stadium with two soccer teams, an agreement that the Athletics would sell their share of the Coliseum, and a condition that MLB agree to put the city of Oakland at the front of the line for an expansion franchise.

Fisher said Thursday that "the conditions to achieve an agreement seemed out of reach," which makes sense at this late stage, with MLB already lagging behind on the task of working up a schedule for next season due to Fisher's persistent foot-dragging. This temporary housing situation was supposed to have been resolved way back in 2023, but MLB cannot have been too surprised by a delay of a few months in a process that Fisher has been slow-rolling and aborting and actively undermining for the better part of 20 years.

Rob Manfred and the league office lost whatever handle they're expected to maintain on the condition of the league's teams, by tradition and/or bylaws, whole ages ago. The Athletics, once just as serious a baseball operation as almost any other, are now entirely a husk, filled with nothing but the schemes and promises of the very least trustworthy and deserving inheritor owner in all of North American professional sports. The team is beyond even pretending to care about the quality of its product; they have a too-loose stadium deal with a corporate partner that is circling the drain, in a city that doesn't want them; they have some hilariously unserious promises about one day spending respectably for a professional roster; and for the next three years they will be playing their home games in a stadium approximately the size of the one that hosts the annual Little League World Series. There has not been a Major League team in such slapdick condition since the advent of color television.

Fisher promises to upgrade the facilities at this bozo half-a-stadium, to make it ready to host absolutely no more than one semi-serious major-league baseball team at a time. Ranadivé, meanwhile, says fans can expect "a world-class baseball experience." That wasn't even true when the Athletics were playing at a real-deal stadium, but since this is all make-believe, who are we to argue?

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