It won’t be that much of a shock that the Oakland A’s were able to wait out the Nevada State Senate and get approval for their grift of a stadium deal. It still has to go through the House, but we know how politicians like to roll over on these things no matter what their constituents think. As George Carlin told us, “It’s a big club. And you ain’t in it.”
What’s truly galling is how much bullshit the A’s plan is built on, and that enough of the Senate bought or just didn’t care enough to stop it. The A’s are moving from a really big market, the Bay Area with its combined 1.2 million people just in both Oakland and San Francisco, to what will be MLB’s smallest market. They will also be moving into the league’s smallest park, if their 30,000-seat plans are what end up coming to be.
The A’s proposal hinged on the promise that they would sell 27,000 tickets a night, or 90 percent capacity for 81 games. You know who doesn’t sell 90 percent of their seats on average? The Dodgers (86 percent). You know who else didn’t? The Best Fans In Baseball, Cardinals (87 percent). Neither did the Yankees (also 87 percent). Are we really supposed to believe that the A’s, run by the duopoly of knuckleheadedness that is John Fisher and David Kaval are going to produce a team that’s going to draw 90 percent capacity through July in the desert?
A senator that the A’s have in their pocket, or she’s just the most gullible and dumbest person in Nevada, Michelle Gorelow, claimed that the A’s stadium will provide a 3-to-1 return on investment. No stadium, ever, has produced that kind of ROI, and there is plenty of studies to show that. This is what they were peddling, and it worked. If that were the case the A’s would have no problem getting a loan for construction, though obviously, that’s not something any team wants when an assembly full of the truly bewildered will just hand them $500 million with no strings.
As Joe Sheehan has pointed out, the A’s may already be poisoned by the time they even move into this boondoggle. They almost certainly can’t serve out another three or four years in Oakland after their move becomes official, which means this dogshit A’s team — player development has not been their thing lately and you’d be hard-pressed to know what free agent is going to sign up to play in a AAA park for years — is going to be serving out an apprenticeship in Vegas at a minor league park with no roof out in the middle of nowhere. There won’t be a novelty when they finally move into their own stadium, other than the stadium itself, which wears off quickly.
The A’s presented this to the Nevada legislature as a tourist attraction, and it’s just hard to fathom that Nationals and Marlins fans are going to fill this place in August year after year. It was poignant that this was going on while down in Vegas the Golden Knights were on their way to their first Stanley Cup, a team that made themselves Vegas’s team and created a vibrant hockey market. They didn’t just pray that enough visiting fans would fill the place every night, even though that was a better bet in the winter than it would be in the summer.
This thing has the potential to be an absolute disaster that will rob a passionate baseball city that’s been fucked over repeatedly of its team to give a team to a market that likely won’t want it after too long. But hey, Rob Manfred’s happy as long as Fisher didn’t have to pay for a stadium himself.
Speaking of Manfred, here’s some more chickenshit cheapness that will have every hedge fund bro on the planet popping a stiffy that will be on the verge of bursting:
It isn’t hard to believe that a group of owners could be this cheap, lazy, and uncaring about the actual product of baseball, it’s hard to believe how easy it is to believe in. They already got a de facto salary cap in the new CBA, but now teams that haven’t invested as heavily in their player development or analytics department or medical department or whatever else that smart teams have tried to find an advantage in on the margins don’t want to do the same. They just want everyone else to have to be limited like they’ve done to themselves. These owners are claiming it’s not fair when other teams come up with creativity and innovation, creativity and innovation that ended up saving owners’ money anyway!
Manfred and MLB won’t be happy until the baseball season is just 30 faceless teams you can’t tell apart engage in a six-month blindfolded tough mudder in a humping-monkey display to see how can get to 87 wins and sneak into the bloated playoffs. If any team ends up with 95 wins it’ll be an anomaly instead of by design.
There are leagues that have this. The NHL does, which is the only league of the four major ones that MLB gets more viewers than. There’s also MLS, and even they’ve invented their own rules-circumvention to try and stand out and do things like bring Lionel Messi to the league. Not that anyone watches that either. This is what MLB wants!
What these nickel-snorting owners don’t realize is that the collapse of RSNs and cable TV, they’re going to be dependent on attendance again before too long. They won’t be getting their sweetheart local TV deals, and 14 of them are already on that road. MLB’s dream is to have every team on MLB TV with no blackouts, which would mean every team would be getting the same amount of money from TV.
The only way to stand out financially would be to get more fans through the gates, which you can only do by winning. And of course, Manfred and his warthog bosses want to kneecap yet another avenue that teams might use to win, and thus draw more fans.
It still is the national pastime, because only the pastime of this nation could be this greedy, stupid, and shortsighted all at once.
Follow Sam on Twitter @Felsgate.