“It’s saying ‘screw you’ to the fans and the city,” said Miles Bishop.
Bishop, a longtime Oakland Athletics fan, was devastated by the news that the team has signed a binding contract for land in Las Vegas.
Though the A’s had been working through the legislative hurdles to complete the long-standing Howard Terminal project — a $12 billion dollar venture that would include a new ballpark in Oakland’s Jack London Square — the team opted instead to relocate near the Las Vegas strip.
The Wednesday night announcement came as no surprise to a fan base that has felt yanked around by its ownership in recent years and is vocal in citing countless grievances toward the A’s ownership and front office.
Owner John Fisher is notorious for his unwillingness to spend money to retain fan-favorite players, which has led to the team being unable to find consistent success. Though the team has stitched together a couple of playoff runs in the last decade, the front office has failed to maintain those player cores, opting to trade players like Matt Chapman or letting fan favorites like Marcus Semien walk — all because the team refused to spend.
“Our owner is a very cheap owner. We’re historically known for not playing our players well and not paying other people in the organization well,” Bishop said.
The A’s currently have the lowest payroll in the MLB, a recognition the team is familiar with as it perennially ranks among cheapest teams in the league.
And A’s fans were no strangers to rumblings about their baseball team potentially leaving Oakland. The team had been trying to find the location and funding to replace the old Oakland Coliseum for quite some time. Fremont and San Jose locations were proposed and a ballpark on the Oakland waterfront was a dream for many, but at every turn, the A’s ownership and front office couldn’t do right by their fans and get a deal done.
But at the end of the day, A’s fans were willing to suffer an ownership group that is more interested in keeping their pockets full than cultivating a winning team.
“The A’s (have) a really loyal fan base. They’ve been here for over 50 years. The fans have such a grassroots vibe. Lots of homemade signs and props and mottos,” said die-hard A’s fan Penelope Martindale.
She pointed to how the A’s fan base adopted the saying “Ride the Wave” during a 13-game winning streak at the start of the 2021 season.
Look no further than this season. Despite being entrenched in a horrendous 5-18 start, the fan base has banded together to send a message to the ownership. They organized reverse boycotts, they hung “Stop blaming us!” signs, they remained hopeful when the team has given them little to no hope. And that hope was returned with what they see as a stab in the back.
“It breaks my heart. My dad worked for the A’s, I probably went to my first game as a six-month-old, this team has been with me my entire life,” Martindale said. “I always envisioned when they got good again and made it to the World Series again, seeing them win in the Coliseum. Realizing that’s not possible anymore is heartbreaking.”
Martindale’s dreams of watching the A’s win a World Series is one all sports fans share, especially those who root for their hometown teams. But the A’s departure is a coup de grace for Oakland sports — the Raiders have already fled for Vegas, and the Golden State Warriors crossed the Bay to San Francisco.
With no teams set to stay or return to Oakland for the foreseeable future, it’s hard to believe Oakland locals will get another chance to celebrate a title in their city.
“I don’t see why I’d continue to root for a team overseen by people who could care less about the most dedicated fanbase in baseball,” Martindale said.