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On November 30, Baseball Prospectus published a piece of mine titled “The A’s Move to Vegas is Approved, Not Assured.” The idea being that MLB had given permission for the Athletics to vacate Oakland and head to Las Vegas, but beyond that, all that was in place was Vegas allowing it to happen, too. There were a number of ways this relocation could fall apart, and the two-plus months since this piece ran have not reduced that number, either.
On top of that, 2024 kicked off with a look at how the A’s still haven’t provided the stadium renderings that they had promised in early December, and the excuses they used for the delay, both directly and indirectly, no longer exist. So what gives?
Now it’s February, and you’ve even got someone as high-profile as Ken Rosenthal wondering what the hell is going on with this supposed relocation. Rosenthal, who is “skeptical” of what the A’s are planning with their move to Vegas, makes some real good points about the viability and likelihood of all of this:
If the A’s play outside the Bay Area, a very real possibility unless they end up at Oracle Park, the Giants’ home stadium, or – gasp – remain at the dreaded Oakland Coliseum, they will lose their contract with their local television network, NBC Sports California. Under that deal, which runs through 2033, they received $67 million last season, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Perhaps the league could help arrange some type of creative TV package involving either of those cities plus Las Vegas and the Bay Area; The Chronicle has reported the A’s potentially could negotiate a lesser payout from NBC Sports California if it played in Sacramento. But what are the odds Fisher actually will walk away from a deal that paid him $67 million last year? Why should anyone expect him not to follow the money?
Like with everything still being negotiated and sorted out in Las Vegas and Nevada, this could be sorted out, and in time for the proposed move. It also could be yet another hurdle that John Fisher and co. stumble over, keeping the A’s from actually leaving Oakland. A city, by the way, that has this to say about the Athletics now:
“To my great shock, the A’s have once again failed to provide anyone in Oakland clarity on their genius business plans,” [Leigh] Hanson said Monday via email. “To date they have not contacted or requested an extension to their lease from the Mayor, Alameda County, the (joint powers agency) that oversees the Coliseum complex and perhaps, most importantly, from the fans.”
Hanson claimed A’s games at the Coliseum, which is owned equally by the A’s and the city, are not profitable for Oakland.
“Luckily we make more money with one exhibition soccer game at the Coliseum than we do throughout the entire A’s season,” Hanson said. “So they won’t be missed.”
Hmm, it’s almost like having the A’s preliminary agreements with Las Vegas leak out in the middle of negotiations with the city they were still in, an event followed up by Fisher and Dave Kaval and the commissioner of MLB, Rob Manfred, all publicly bickering with the city of Oakland and its mayor about how deserving Oakland was for a chance at the A’s and how much they actually even attempted to negotiate in good faith with the club has bred some negativity when it comes to the the topic of the A’s there.
How likely are the A’s to leave behind $67 million annually from their TV deal? Remember, before you answer, that Fisher is the kind of guy who is intentionally moving his team to the smallest media market in the league so he’ll never have revenue-sharing checks taken away from him again. How likely is it that the A’s find a home that lets them keep that $67 million per year? Less likely than it was before they infuriated everyone in power in Oakland, from the sounds of things. Masterful gambits, sirs.
Evan Drellich looked at the viability of an Amazon-allied Diamond with the help of a couple of bankruptcy lawyers and a pair of sports-media rights experts. Now, it’s not about whether streaming on Prime will work out, so much as if Diamond’s plan for streaming on Amazon will work for Diamond. So, if you hate the details within, that probably just increases the likelihood that, in the future, we’ll see MLB partnering directly with Amazon for in-market streaming, rather than including the middleman of Diamond in the mix.
It’s a time of change for how games are broadcast, the kind of massive one that comes every few decades as technology evolves. Games were once something you could only watch in person, and while it was light out. Radio, lighting, television, cable, streaming — the ways and places and times in which you could consume baseball keep changing, and we’re going to end up seeing a shift from the current RSN model to a new local market setup. There will probably be some growing pains, though, especially while the rights are split up over a few different places, and with those growing pains will come a lot of skepticism about the viability of the model, both internally and externally. Some of it is going to be warranted, some of it overblown, but it’ll all end up shaping what we do end up with.
Will Diamond be part of that eventual future? That’s the kind of question Drellich tried to answer, among others.
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