By Ken Reed
It appears John Fisher, owner of the Oakland A’s, is going to move his MLB franchise to Las Vegas. The A’s have struck a deal to buy land near the famous Strip in Las Vegas for a new stadium. The plan is for the stadium to seat between 30,000 and 35,000 fans.
Fisher is looking to leave Oakland because after several years of trying he ultimately couldn’t extort the amount of public money from the city of Oakland and state of California that he desired. The move to Vegas has several hurdles left to clear and Fisher’s offer for land near the Strip may yet be nothing more than a leverage play on Oakland politicians. But Oakland mayor Sheng Thao says she has no interest in playing that game any longer.
“In the last three months, we’ve made significant strides to close the deal,” Thao said.
“Yet, it is clear to me that the A’s have no intention of staying in Oakland and have simply been using this process to try to extract a better deal out of Las Vegas. I am not interested in continuing to play that game – the fans and our residents deserve better.”
Pro sports owners have long told their host cities, “Build us a new stadium (arena) or we will move the team to another city.”
Consider what’s happened the last couple decades:
* Hamilton County increased its sales tax by .5 percent to build the Great American Ballpark for the Cincinnati Reds (and Paul Brown Stadium for the Bengals).
* San Diego used bonds and hotel taxes to help build Petco Park for the Padres.
* Philadelphia raised rental car taxes and pleaded for money from the state in order to build Citizens Bank Park for the Phillies.
* Busch Stadium was said to be “privately financed” — one of the very few stadiums that can even make that claim — and it was to an extent, but St. Louis offered major tax and interest breaks that will save the Cardinals hundreds of millions of dollars, and the state of Missouri offered all sorts of infrastructure.
* The District of Columbia sold $610 million in bonds to build Nationals Park for the Nationals.
* The city of New York paid more than a billion dollars in public money and tax breaks to cover the cost of the new Yankee Stadium.
* The city of New York paid about $600 million in public money and tax breaks to cover the cost of Citi Field.
* After many years of wrangling, Hennepin County — Minneapolis is the county seat — slapped a .15% sales tax on its folks to build Target Field for the Twins.
* Overcoming a lawsuit challenging the public money spent, Miami-Dade County provided the land and bonds covering almost the entire cost of building LoanDepot Park for the Marlins.
* Cobb County issued about $400 million in bonds to help pay for the Braves’ move from downtown Atlanta to Truist Park and a brand new entertainment district in Cobb County.
* The City of Arlington added a bunch of taxes (sales tax, car rental tax, hotel occupancy tax) to go halfsies with the Texas Rangers on Globe Life Field less than 20 years after the city had built what was then the shiny new Ballpark at Arlington. This came after the Rangers threatened to move to Dallas.
Buffalo, New York and Nashville, Tennessee have recently agreed to give multi-millions to the wealthy Bills and Titans owners respectively for new stadiums.
“This is the reality of American sports,” according to sports columnist Joe Posnanski.
“The story remains the same. Cities and counties continuously come to the voters with inflated promises (economic development!) and big dreams (imagine the Super Bowl coming to town!) and fear-based concerns (we are in danger of no longer being a Major League city!) and new stadiums get built and the wheels keep turning.”
Oakland played this game years ago to lure Al Davis and the NFL’s Raiders back to Oakland from Los Angeles. Nevertheless, the Raiders quickly weren’t happy in Oakland and are now based in Las Vegas. Meanwhile, Oakland taxpayers continue to pay for the upgrades to their stadium that were made so the Raiders and Davis would call Oakland their long-term home.
It appears Thao, and Oakland’s city leaders, no longer want to play the stadium extortion game.
Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman, and has a long involvement with the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sport (now called the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition). We discuss the state of college athletics today, given the pressures of NIL, the transfer portal, sports gambling and huge media contracts. McMillen then provides great perspective on the poor state of physical fitness our young people are experiencing today.
Listen on Listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Anchor and others.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
More Episodes on Apple Podcasts; Spotify; Google Podcasts; PocketCasts; & Anchor
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.”
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
Order from Amazon
Order from Amazon
Order from Amazon
Ken Reed’s Author Page on Amazon