On July 20, Oakland City Council is set to meet and vote on the Howard Terminal Stadium. While Oakland A’s President Dave Kaval has made it clear for the franchise to stay in Oakland, he has also recently expressed that the A’s have their eyes set on two sites in the Henderson, Nevada area for possible relocation. This potential relocation could have big implications on not only the Oakland A’s, but on the MLB as a whole.
Generally, under Major League Baseball Rules, any request to move a franchise must be voted upon by the other team owners. The current rules require an affirmative vote by three-fourths of the clubs in the league affected (i.e., American League) plus a majority vote in the other league (i.e., National League) to approve movement of a franchise. However, there are exceptions to his rule. The two exceptions are when: (1) three-fourths of the clubs in the unaffected league must consent when a club relocates to a city with a population less than 2.4 million in which the unaffected league has a club; (2) If a club relocates to an area near an existing team, that team has veto rights over the move. The Commissioner is also involved in this process and is empowered to investigate any charged or suspected act not in the best interests of baseball. This power has been interpreted to extend to issues pertaining to a proposed relocation that may affect the MLB.
One big potential implication of this relocation is that it could increase their brand appeal to young fans who are heavily consumed in sports and entertainment options. As we all know, Las Vegas is the premier spot of legal sports betting. Over the past few years, the MLB has built business relationships with many fantasy sports providers, and now has partnerships with sports betting companies, such as FanDuel, MGM Resorts International, and DraftKings. MLB Network and other broadcast networks include odds in the television presentation and Bally’s Sports has the rights to regional baseball broadcasts in many of the biggest markets in the United States. With the presence of the NFL and NHL already in the city, the arrival of MLB to Las Vegas seems destined to take place.
However, there may be a big headache coming MLB’s way in the form of a lawsuit if the A’s do relocate out of Oakland and into Henderson, Nevada. At least that is what recent history tells us. For example, the NFL is currently in a legal battle with the city of St. Louis over the relocation of the Rams. And it looks like barring a settlement that this will culminate with a full-blown trial as according to Randy Karraker of 101 ESPN in St. Louis, a St. Louis judge ruled that the city of St. Louis has the ability to investigate the net worth of the NFL, Commissioner Roger Goodell, Rams owner Stan Kroenke, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Giants owner John Mara, and ex-Panthers owner Jerry Richardson. The general complaint in the 2017 lawsuit was the Plaintiffs claim the NFL broke league protocol and the league’s relocation rules by permitting the Rams departure from St. Louis and misled the public about staying in St. Louis, which allegedly cost the city millions in ticket and earnings tax revenue.
If the Oakland City Council’s vote does fail and the A’s do relocate to Henderson, Nevada, it is a big gamble that MLB would be taking.