MLB

Does Having Two Stadiums Give Salt Lake City Edge To Temporarily Land A’s?

Jan 20, 2024, 3:38 PM | Updated: 3:43 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – The Oakland Athletics are on their way out of town and will be moving to Las Vegas for the 2028 season. However, this upcoming 2024 season is very likely the final one for the A’s in Oakland but for three years starting in 2025, they need a home to play their games.

Salt Lake City could fill that gap as a temporary home for those three years. The news initially broke via the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the A’s were making visits across the West to find out where their team could play after the 2024 season and Salt Lake City was one of the locations.

Other locations included remaining at the Oakland Collesium, Oracle Park which is the home of the San Francisco Giants, and the Triple-A ballparks in Sacramento, Las Vegas, Reno, and Smith’s Ballpark. The A’s executive team did visit Salt Lake but they did not go to Smith’s Ballpark instead, the plan is to have the A’s play at the under-construction stadium in Daybreak which will be ready for the 2025 season.

Larry H. Miller CEO Steve Starks provided details on Hans & Scotty G. about what the visit entailed and that it was the A’s that reached out to inquire about Salt Lake.

“This conversation started weeks ago and we were contacted,” Starks said on the KSL Sports Zone. “Given that we will have a unique opportunity to have two stadiums in our market, we became an obvious consideration for the Athletics…They made a market visit and they loved what they saw.

“It would be the Daybreak Stadium because it would be a brand new facility,” he said. “It would meet the standards that are required for Major League Baseball. …[Smith’s Ballpark] doesn’t meet the standards required, we explored it, and it wasn’t even an option. We didn’t even tour it with the Athletics because we knew it wouldn’t be a viable option.”

Where To Play, Or Not?

That new ballpark in Daybreak does give Utah an edge to land the Athletics for three years starting in 2025. The other options do not seem ideal for either party. Remaining in Oakland is a losing proposition as the team already announced it is going to Las Vegas, sharing with another pro club like the San Francisco Giants would be awkward, and not something their rival would want. Scheduling and upgrading other minor league parks could be expensive and challenging to schedule games for two baseball teams.

Mick Akers of the Las Vegas Review-Journal tells JJ & Alex that the situation in Salt Lake provides flexibility for the A’s, and a decision could be made before the upcoming Major League Baseball season begins at the end of March.

“It seems like a real possibility that they will end up at some Triple-A facility,” Akers said. “The two stadium deal that could happen out there [in Utah] with the new one opening up next year [MLB and the A’s] will look highly on that.

“It is a little ways away but they will have to figure this out pretty soon because they get the schedule together in July. At some point, over the next month or two they need to figure this out.”

The Salt Lake market seems to be the best option with the newest ballpark among those chosen and the least issues involving another franchise. The A’s having their own space of their own in Daybreak, could make it feel like a home atmosphere for the three years they would need to have a home while they await moving to Las Vegas.

Akers also states the obvious for why remaining in Oakland is a non-starter.

“They’ve ​been ​touting ​this ​idea ​of ​potentially playing ​outside of ​the ​Coliseum ​where ​the ​lease ​runs ​out ​at ​the ​end ​of ​the ​2024 season,” he added. “They have ​a ​contentious relationship ​now ​with ​some ​of ​the ​elected ​officials ​out ​there, ​so ​them ​extending ​that ​lease ​doesn’t ​look ​that ​great. ​Plus, ​the ​turnout ​of ​the ​fans ​up ​there ​hasn’t ​been ​great ​over ​the ​last ​couple ​of ​years ​with ​all ​the ​grumblings ​of ​the location.”

Going to a new market with the chance to draw capacity crowds has to be a positive for the A’s executive group. Being in Salt Lake could be a good thing for the A’s to get a new set of fans, while also showing Major League Baseball that Salt Lake City can support a big league club.

While Salt Lake looks like a good option, some issues could stand in the way of the A’s playing at the new Daybreak stadium full time and it has to do with the A’s television rights deal. Major League Baseball already has some of the most antiquated and strict blackout policies, plus there are areas that don’t have a team but are claimed by an area. In Utah, the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks are the “local teams.” So, it would make some sense they may not want to lose potential viewers to the A’s who move to Salt Lake.

However, Akers says that is not the issue at hand but rather with the local media rights deal.

“There’s ​some ​kind ​of ​language ​saying ​they ​have ​to ​play ​a ​certain ​amount ​of ​games ​in ​the ​Bay ​area ​to ​get ​the ​chunk ​of ​money ​from ​the ​TV ​contract,” he said. ​I’m ​sure ​Major ​League ​Baseball ​and ​maybe ​their ​partner ​there ​might ​work ​something ​out. ​That’s ​something ​that’s ​going ​to ​have ​to ​get ​worked ​out ​in ​the ​background ​as ​well.

The local TV deal that the A’s currently have is with NBC Sports California which runs through 2033 and pays them approximately $60 million per season, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The one catch is that games need to be played in the Bay Area to receive that much-needed $180 million over those three seasons, and to a team that is known for being extremely frugal.

Perhaps Major League Baseball could figure something out if the A’s do move to a market outside of the Bay Area, the Athletics can still get that revenue to fund its team.

There is no detailed information on how many “home” games need to be in the Bay Area to receive that cash. The three markets that technically would count as the Bay Area would be remaining in Oakland, playing at the home of the Giants in San Francisco, or the Triple-A facility in Sacramento. None of those seem ideal as it would require sharing a stadium or playing in one that has no future at all.

That revenue is a gigantic issue and the one real obstacle that could keep the A’s using Wasatch Front as a gap before going to Las Vegas. For the sake of saving face, the A’s and Major League Baseball might prefer a fresh market that would welcome the team with open arms and full crowds night after night. That is something that can be offered if they spend three seasons in Utah.

Tune into JJ & Alex every Monday through Friday, 3-6 p.m. on 1280 AM and 97.5 FM, or subscribe to the podcast. Also, download the all-new KSL Sports app on iOS or Android.

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Does Having Two Stadiums Give Salt Lake City Edge To Temporarily Land A’s?