West Sacramento Mayor Martha Guerrero welcomes the A’s to Sacramento at an April 4 event announcing the move at Sutter Health Park. (Photos by Steve Martarano)

The A’s Are Coming to Sacramento

The Oakland team will have a 3-year residence at Sutter Health Park

Back Web Only Apr 5, 2024 By Steve Martarano

The stunner of an announcement was made official Thursday morning at a blustery and rainy Sutter Health Park. The Oakland Athletics will play their 81-game home schedule at Sacramento’s 25-year-old, 14,014-capacity ballpark in West Sacramento for at least three years, beginning with the 2025 season.

“I’m thrilled to welcome the A’s to Sutter Health Park, where players and fans alike can enjoy a world-class baseball experience and create unforgettable memories,” Sacramento Kings owner and chairman Vivek Ranadivé, who bought a stake in the Sacramento River Cats last year, said at a news conference at the park Thursday. “You’re going to see (Shohei) Ohtani; you’re going to see Aaron Judge hit home runs out there.” 

“And yes,” Ranadivé added, “our hope is that this leads to a permanent MLB team.”

“We look forward to making Sutter Health Park our home through our move to Las Vegas,” says A’s owner and managing partner John Fisher.

The unique deal that puts the A’s in Sacramento for three seasons, with an option for a fourth, was prompted after A’s owner and managing partner John Fisher announced the team’s planned move to Las Vegas last year. Construction is planned for a stadium on the Las Vegas Strip and is scheduled to open in time for the 2028 season. The A’s will play out their lease in Oakland this season but needed a place to play once the lease ran out. They had been in negotiations with Oakland, as well as other minor league cities such as Sacramento and Salt Lake City.

Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao, in a statement issued Thursday, said “Oakland offered a deal that was fair to the A’s and was fiscally responsible for our city. We wish the A’s the best and will continue our conversations with them on facilitating the sale of their share of the Coliseum site. The City of Oakland will now focus on advancing redevelopment efforts at the Coliseum.”

It’s a move with few historical precedents where a major league franchise will be temporarily moving and then playing in another city for multiple years, knowing it eventually plans to move again. The Sacramento decision has spurred a wide range of emotions from fans of the A’s, which moved to Oakland in 1968 from Kansas City, winning five World Series titles since then.

When the A’s leave Oakland, the city will be without a major league franchise for the first time since 1960, having lost the Raiders to Las Vegas and Warriors to San Francisco in recent years. 

“We look forward to making Sutter Health Park our home through our move to Las Vegas,” Fisher said. “We extend our appreciation to the Kings and the City of West Sacramento for hosting the A’s while we work to complete our new ballpark in Las Vegas.”

Local officials, however, look at the A’s — who were the MLB affiliates of the River Cats through 2015 — as a way to showcase Sacramento baseball on a national stage and are excited with the move and economic benefits it will bring to the Capital Region. There’s also the hope Sacramento will acquire a team permanently, either by an expansion team, or if the Las Vegas deal doesn’t go through.

“This is a proven deal for us,” says Barry Broome, Greater Sacramento Economic Council president and CEO.

“This is a proven deal for us,” says Barry Broome, Greater Sacramento Economic Council president and CEO. “You know, in sports, these athletes that some people don’t think maybe are a big-time quarterback, or a big-time point guard, they go take that one-year deal and prove it. This is a three-year proven deal for Sacramento. We rock this park, we rock the sponsorships. We buy the merchandise. We treat the A’s like we treat the Kings, and Major League Baseball is going to give us a team in 2028, and I’m excited about that.”

West Sacramento Mayor Martha Guerrero highlighted the economic prosperity it would bring to the region. 

“We’ve been waiting for this moment,” she says. “We’ve been building the riverfront for this moment. And we are ready to make this happen and make it successful, as Barry said, for more than the three years.”

Meanwhile there were concerns how the A’s emergence will affect the current tenants of Sutter Health Park, the San Francisco Giants’ Triple A affiliate River Cats. River Cats general manager Chip Maxson said last week that the River Cats are not going anywhere.

“We are Sacramento’s team,” Maxson says. “If someone else were to play here, we made it clear that we want to make sure we play all 75 home games for the River Cats for the foreseeable future.” The A’s said Thursday that the leagues will ensure that schedules are constructed to meet both MLB and MiLB guidelines and will both have dedicated facility space.

West Sacramento Mayor Martha Guerrero hugs Vivek Ranadivé with John Fisher looking on.

A’s President Dave Kaval says the Sutter Health Park employees for the A’s will be a mix of current A’s, River Cats and Kings staff, and layoffs will result. He says what made Sacramento rise to the top of the list to host the A’s was a combination of factors.

“I think, obviously, the strong fan base here and the fact that there are a lot of fans who’ve been displaced from the Bay Area and East Bay, especially to the Sacramento region,” Kaval says. “We think there’s a built-in fan base, with the success of the River Cats over a generation. The next three years will be a great chance to showcase the interest in baseball here.”

While many details will be worked out in the next year until Opening Day 2025, including final approval for the move from the Major League Players Association, the A’s indicated current A’s and River Cats season ticket holders will have priority for seats next year and can put in a deposit at the Athletics website

The River Cats recently spent $9 million upgrading their locker room and weight room facilities, but other upgrades would be forthcoming to get the park to MLB standards in areas such as lighting, media accommodations and building an additional clubhouse for players.

Fan Tom Engle of Sacramento, wearing an A’s shirt depicting A’s Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson, says he is upset the A’s are leaving Oakland but will be a big supporter.

“I’ll go to as many games as I can.”

Broome says he’s pushing to call the team the Sacramento A’s while they’re here, though they are being simply officially the “A’s” in the meantime.

“The only thing I asked the Fishers is, when they win the World Series in the next three years, that they put that parade right down the middle of our town,” says Broome.

Correction April 5, 2024: A previous version of this article erroneously stated that the A’s ballpark in Las Vegas is currently under construction. Construction is planned.

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