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Menlo Community Reacts to Possible Oakland A’s Relocation to Las Vegas

Lopez at age five in an A’s windbreaker with his grandfather in 2000. Photo courtesy of Lopez

On July 25, when the two Bay Area baseball teams met at Oracle Park in San Francisco as part of the annual Bay Bridge Series, Oakland A’s and San Francisco Giants fans united in “sell the Team” chants protesting A’s owner John Fisher and teams’ presumptive move to Las Vegas. According to ESPN, the A’s signed a binding agreement to purchase 35 acres on the Las Vegas Strip where they plan to build their future ballpark.

If they relocate, the A’s will work with the state of Nevada and Clark County, where Las Vegas is located, on a public-private partnership to fund the new stadium. The team hopes to move to their new home by the 2028 season.

In August, the A’s submitted a formal application to Major League Baseball to relocate, putting the team one step closer to moving the team from Oakland to Las Vegas. Major League Baseball’s 30 owners will vote on the proposal with three quarters of the vote required for approval.

The A’s announcement to relocate has sparked discussion throughout the Menlo community. The news didn’t surprise sophomore A’s fan Matthew Franc. “I kinda knew it was coming,” he said.

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Since 1968, the A’s have called the Oakland Coliseum home. Oakland ranked last in attendance during the 2022 season with an average of under 10,000 fans per game. “People stopped showing up because it didn’t look like the ownership and front office were putting any effort into the team,” Franc said.

Franc said he is upset with the way things went down between the city of Oakland and the A’s organization. “I wish [the two parties] had come to a compromise. It’s frustrating,” Franc said. “I definitely won’t root for the Las Vegas A’s.”

Dr. Michael Freehill, father of Lizzie (‘24) and Jack (‘26), works as an orthopedic surgeon for the A’s. Freehill hopes that the A’s will remain in Oakland. “I hope it’s not a done deal yet,” he said. “I have my fingers crossed that it’s still not going to happen.”

Freehill thinks it’s vital that the city keeps the team considering that the A’s are the last remaining major sports franchise in Oakland. “The A’s have a very storied franchise which has been very competitive,” Freehill said. “It’s critical that the city keeps them and if it doesn’t, it would be very sad.”

Middle and Upper School Football and Baseball Coach Robert Lopez who graduated from Menlo in 2018, grew up as an A’s fan in Half Moon Bay. Lopez explained that his father, an immigrant from Mexico, fell in love with the A’s, and that passion carried over to him. “The Oakland A’s won my heart over,” he said. “I’ve been a die-hard [fan] for a very long time.”

The A’s are infamous for their “Moneyball” philosophy which dates back to the early 2000s under General Manager Billy Beane. The strategy is a data-driven approach to building a competitive baseball team on a limited budget. It focuses on exploiting undervalued players by analyzing key statistics traditionally ignored by other teams. Consequently, the Oakland A’s front office is notorious for their cost cutting actions and historically low payroll which ranks last in the league this season.

Lopez acknowledges the challenges that the A’s Moneyball system presents, but overall likes the idea and underdog mentality. “It’s a very cheap way to look at baseball,” Lopez said. “Facing the analytics works to a certain extent, but it’s really hard to have continuous success.”

Lopez also feels that the Moneyball system can be disheartening as a fan. “The trading of the big stars [to save money] is what turned me away from going to more games,” he said.

Lopez doesn’t see the move changing the organization’s trajectory. “It’s hard to say that [the relocation] will change anything,” he said.

Oakland’s mayor, Sheng Thao, believes that the A’s used negotiations with Oakland to extract a better deal out of Las Vegas. “The fans and our residents deserve better,” she said in a statement regarding the news that the team plans to move during a press conference at Oakland City Hall on April 20, 2023.

In the last five years, the franchise has been actively pursuing a new waterfront ballpark in Oakland at Howards Terminal. “The A’s ownership has invested unprecedented time and resources to try to build a new ballpark in Oakland,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in response to Thao’s claim.

The A’s lease on the Oakland Coliseum expires after the 2024 MLB season. Fisher has remained open to extending the agreement with the stadium until the team is able to officially relocate. Another option is that the team would play the 2025, 2026 and 2027 seasons at the 10,000-seat Las Vegas Ballpark, home to their Triple-A affiliate, the Aviators.

This story was originally published on The Coat of Arms on September 8, 2023.