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Oakland A’s Fans Clash With Owner Over Vegas Move

Penny August 13, 2023

Talk around Las Vegas sports has been firmly on the addition of an MLB franchise to the strip this year. It was reported in April of this year that Oakland’s premier – and only – team in the major leagues would be looking to make a controversial move to the Vegas Strip. That prompted discontent among the sports fanatics of California.

Oakland Athletics

Time hasn’t healed those wounds at all. Instead, protests are building and locals are increasingly putting pressure on the Oakland A’s majority owner John Fisher. His name, and indeed face, has been at the center of a few fan-led revolts with the aim of holding on to the final name in professional US sport.

Since the announcement that a deal had been agreed to build a new stadium for the A’s in Las Vegas, fans, league chiefs, and the respective mayors of the cities involved have had their say. Those in Oakland are, as previously mentioned, understandably disturbed by the prospect of their final remaining professional sports side relocating. Nevada-based businessmen and officials are considerably more positive, given the financial benefits that a new major league side in the state will bring. The deal has kept chugging along. However, as time has gone on, the louder voices appear to be shouting from California. The state’s status within the US means that there are a lot of interested parties, especially given the relative fame, fortune, and influence of many of its residents.

Famous Names Among Dissenting Voices

The fan protests have been numerous and varied in the strength of their message. A coffee joint in Lake Tahoe has recently banned the owner of the A’s from entering the premises. That comes in the wake of more local, louder, and perhaps slightly more childish displays of disaffection. Fans of the baseball side have partnered with supporters of the California NBA side the San Francisco Giants. They have held reverse boycotts to drive the point home. That is, they have filled the home stadium, the Colosseum, with fans to show the owner that there is still a passion for the side in the city. This is a strong message, especially since one of the major drivers behind relocation has been the dwindling attendances at matches in the face of poor performances and reduced investment in the playing staff. To top all of this off, outside of matches, fans are throwing tomatoes at images of John Fisher to show their disdain for the man in charge.

However, it’s not just supporter’s groups that are using their voices. In fact, a number of big names are lending their own platforms to the message that the Oakland A’s should remain in their home city. While promoting his book, legendary actor Tom Hanks lent his own instantly recognizable voice to the growing dissent. He was asked if he would be interested in investing his Hollywood millions into his beloved baseball team and while he seemed to wave away any chance of that happening, he described A’s fans as the best in the sport. He also highlighted the seemingly endless exodus of sports sides from the area. Speaking to the crowd, he said “We’ve lost the Raiders, the Warriors moved to San Francisco, and now they’re going to take the A’s out of Oakland”. It’s clear that this isn’t a universally popular proposition, then, as some with heavily vested interests would like us to believe.

Sports Team Relocation Unpopular Globally

It may seem unusual in the States, where teams are franchises that have often moved or changed names, but relocation is almost a strictly North American practice and is extremely unpopular, especially in Europe. Perhaps, then, it’s time for those at the top of organizations in the US to take heed of what has happened in other sports, in other nations. In fact, English soccer team MK Dons might be the best case study. In the early 2000s, FA Cup winners Wimbledon were struggling and didn’t have its own permanent home stadium. The owners decided to relocate the side to Milton Keynes, a new town around 60 miles from Wimbledon, and rename them. Since then, the MK Dons have been the most hated club in England. That is never a good start and something that should give pause for thought to owners in the US.

At the moment, there’s no real suggestion that Fisher will drop his lucrative plans for the A’s to move to Vegas. That won’t stop the fans of the side and locals in Oakland, though. Instead, it looks like they will continue their fight, trying to hold on to a California institution. If they can drive home their point successfully, perhaps the Strip won’t be seeing a new addition after all.

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