Notes: Public team ownership, A’s ballpark funds

A deep dive worth diving into, and my latest from BP, plus a response to a comment there.

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R.J. Anderson has done some deep dives over the years at CBS Sports, but Tuesday’s feature might be one of the deepest: he looked at the history of private team ownership in professional sports, why it’s worked, why it’s been obstructed, and why it could be a useful rejoinder to the exceptionally greedy, corporate mentality that plagues pro sports today.

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Notes: A’s request to not play in Las Vegas after move to Vegas, MLB gambling

The A’s haven’t even moved to Sacramento, never mind Las Vegas, and they’re already trying to skip playing home games in Vegas. Plus some thoughts on MLB and “mixed messaging” regarding gambling.

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According to a report from the Nevada Independent, the A’s proposal for their 30-year non-relocation agreement requests up allowing up to eight home games per year to be played at neutral sites. So, not the Las Vegas ballpark. Sure, being able to go to London and play or what have you can be a thing MLB teams do, but up to eight per year is a lot, and the A’s want to do it in order to build their brand.

To be fair, their brand is in the toilet, but hey things are more complicated than what the whims of the A’s suggest. Which is pretty normal, really.

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Notes: The Las Vegas A’s stadium is on track unless it isn’t, Yankees sustainability, MLB absorbs Negro League stats

The Las Vegas A’s remain more conceptual than anything, the Yankees utter a word that would have killed The Boss, and Negro League statistics are now MLB statistics.

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If you ask the people behind the Las Vegas A’s stadium push, everything is great! There’s no need to worry; everything is happening as it’s supposed to, we’re happy to take questions so long as they aren’t about where A’s owner John Fisher is going to get the additional financing needed to actually build the thing. If you ask people who know how these things work, though, who aren’t unregistered lobbyists, well. Neil deMause handled that at Field of Schemes already this week:

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Notes: Tax loophole, MLB realignment, Oakland sells Coliseum, NCAA settlement

More on the tax loophole, a couple of thoughts on realignment, Oakland’s stadium situation gets additional wrinkles, and the NCAA is primed for a major change.

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Lots to get through today, so let’s get to it.

I went in deeper on the billionaire sports owner tax loophole news for Baseball Prospectus earlier in the week, getting into the origins of the loophole, what it is, why it’s a problem, and why we should hope the IRS decided to remove or rewrite it. The shorter version of it is that it would keep, say, a team that costs $2 billion from pretending 80 percent of the team’s valuation is going to lose value instead of gaining it like what happens with sports franchises simply for existing, allowing them to avoid $650 million in taxes over the next 15 years that they really should have paid. The longer version, well, I wrote that for BP, and while you need a subscription for that, at the least, you could always read the ProPublica reporting from three years ago on the subject.

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Notes: The A’s can get worse, Diamond Baseball Holdings

Why the A’s can get worse, and what is Diamond Baseball Holdings up to?

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My latest at Baseball Prospectus published on Tuesday, and it’s on how the A’s can get worse. You would think they’re already as bad as they can be, but no. Right now, at least, there’s some hope that maybe things could get better, because the move to Las Vegas could get John Fisher to become a completely different person who spends money like he’s said will happen. But that’s very unlikely. Unlikely enough that I went on the record to say that it’s not happening, while feeling pretty good about my chances of not having to eat crow about it later.

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Notes: Other teams unhappy with A’s, gambling, Scott Boras axed

Catching up on a week of news that wouldn’t stop.

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Last week, Buster Olney tweeted out something that made the whole internet groan. Not at Olney — not this time — but at pretty much all of MLB. You can probably figure out why just from reading what was said:

Within other organizations, there is a lot of disgust with how the A’s have handled the ballpark situation — especially when there’s no actual ballpark plan settled in Las Vegas. And there is an assumption the A’s will tank in the next few years, because their revenue stream will be down to a trickle. “This makes us all look bad,” said one person.

This was met with a chorus of “why did they approve the A’s move, then?!” which, understandable. A few things I’ve been thinking about, though, that should get a mention. For one, Olney doesn’t clarify whether this is from an owner, or an executive who happens to work for one, who had nothing to do with the move being allowed. It would be helpful if we knew: my guess is that it’s an executive who knows how bad of a look this is, and not one of the owners, who by and large are too removed from humanity to ever consider how something will make them “look” to people at large.

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Why are the A’s allowed to be this way?

The A’s are moving to Sacramento temporarily, so let’s remind ourselves of why this is happening at all.

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On Thursday, it was announced by the A’s that they would be spending the 2025-2027 seasons (and possibly 2028’s) playing their home games in Sacramento, at a Triple-A stadium. Not just in terms of what team already plays there, but also in terms of its facilities, per former player Trevor Hildenberger.

The move isn’t fully official, since the Players Association still has a say in whether those facilities are going to be on par with what’s required (which might require forcing them to be improved somehow, perhaps), but that’s not the focus of today’s wonderings. Let’s unpack some social media posts from yesterday. Nothing dramatic happened, it’s just to set the scene of the question being answered.

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Kansas City votes against the Royals, A’s and Oakland remain far apart on lease

The Johns are at it again.

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One of the first tests for whether Kansas City would hand over hundreds of millions of dollars to the Royals for a new stadium was given on Tuesday night. Good news, if you’re not an employee with the Royals: the voters rejected the proposal. Neil deMause has the details and some thoughts about what might happen next over at Field of Schemes.

All it took was a little bit of math by me — a non-math person — months ago to determine that the Royals are seeking what very well may be the largest publicly subsidy in history for a new stadium and surrounding development:

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Notes: Orioles sale gets initial approval, A’s renderings sure do exist

The Orioles move one step closer to their sale, the A’s revealed a stadium they can’t build or won’t do what they say it will, and a note on other people’s coverage.

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Per the Baltimore Sun, Major League Baseball’s ownership committee voted to approve the sale of the Baltimore Orioles to David Rubenstein, which is not the same thing as the sale of the team being approved. For that to happen, at least 23 of the owners would need to vote in favor, but it’s also difficult to imagine any reason why this particular deal would be shot down. Well, alright, maybe a bunch of small-market owners would be upset about another owner coming in to spend more than the current O’s owners do, but this same-ish group of men also let Steve Cohen buy the Mets, so they don’t get too worked up over that sort of thing. Outside of trying to keep Mark Cuban out of their club, anyway.

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Oakland isn’t going to just let the A’s extend their lease

Watch as the A’s try to extract something they need from a city they’ve been openly and unfairly criticizing for months and months.

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If you’ve been following along with the Athletics’ search for a stadium to play baseball in during the years where the (supposed, hypothetical) Las Vegas stadium is being built, then you already know that it is not going well. As I wrote for Baseball Prospectus earlier this month, John Fisher’s A’s no longer have a lease with the city of Oakland after the 2024 season, and then, playing outside the Bay Area until 2028, when the (supposed, hypothetical) Vegas stadium is finished and ready for baseball will cost them their regional television contract, which pays them $67 million per year.

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