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Oakland A’s pass on SLC, announce temporary move to Sacramento

SALT LAKE CITY — The Oakland Athletics on Thursday announced they will play three seasons in Sacramento’s Triple-A ballpark before moving to Las Vegas.

“The A’s will begin playing in West Sacramento at the start of the 2025 Major League Baseball season and will continue until their permanent home in Las Vegas is ready to welcome fans, which is projected for Opening Day 2028,” a statement from the club read. The agreement also includes an option for a fourth year.

The team will play at Sutter Health Park — the current home of the Sacramento River Cats with a capacity of 14,000. The River Cats are the Triple-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants and play in the Pacific Coast League with the Salt Lake Bees.

Athletics executives visited Salt Lake in January and also explored extending their lease at the Oakland Coliseum before settling on Sacramento. Larry H. Miller Company CEO Steve Starks acknowledged the team’s visit “and demonstrated we can accommodate their ballpark needs” with the new minor league stadium being built in South Jordan’s Downtown Daybreak.

“We want to express our gratitude to Major League Baseball and the Athletics for approaching the Larry H. Miller Company about potentially hosting the Athletics in our new ballpark in Downtown Daybreak during their transitionary period,” the company said in a statement issued Thursday. “From the beginning, there were economic reasons tied to an existing television contract that favored the Athletics staying in Northern California. We wish the Athletics much success in their home state during this exciting time in their team history.

“Our proven and ready ownership group and broad-based coalition is fully committed to bringing an MLB expansion team to the Power District on Salt Lake City’s west side. We are grateful and encouraged that Utah was viewed as a potential host and solution for the Athletics, and we will continue to demonstrate that we are the ideal MLB expansion market.”

The Bees are set to leave Smith’s Ballpark and move to their “new hive” after the 2024 season. Had the A’s opted for a move to Utah, the Bees would have remained at Smith’s Ballpark for those three years.

“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,” said Sacramento Kings Owner and Chairman Vivek Ranadivé. The Kings organization is the majority owner of the River Cats.

“Today marks the next chapter of professional sports in Sacramento. The passion of our fans is second to none, and this is an incredible opportunity to showcase one of the most dynamic and vibrant markets in the country.”

“On behalf of all of MLB, I want to express my appreciation to West Sacramento, Sutter Health Park, the Kings and the greater Sacramento region for their excitement to host the A’s for interim play, as the A’s new permanent home is built in Las Vegas,” Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said.

The Oakland A’s previously released renderings for their 33,000-seat ballpark on the Las Vegas Strip, which is set to be canopied by an enormous, five-tier roof.

Inspired by baseball pennants, some have compared the ballpark’s design to the Sydney Opera House, while others likened the individual tiers to the scales of an armadillo — an animal that is not native to Nevada.

MLB future in Utah?

While the A’s might not be coming to town temporarily, they could come to Salt Lake to face a future expansion franchise owned by the Miller family and the Larry H. Miller Company.

The group unveiled “shovel-ready” plans for a new MLB ballpark at the 100-acre Rocky Mountain Power District on Salt Lake City’s west side. Earlier this year, the Utah Legislature approved both HB562 and SB272, which would invest at least $900 million in proposals for an MLB ballpark and National Hockey League arena over the next several decades.

HB562 creates a new Utah Fairpark Area Investment Restoration District to help shepherd the redevelopment planned for the Fairpark neighborhood and forthcoming Power District. It also provides up to $900 million in state funds for a possible Major League Baseball stadium, if Utah gets an expansion team by 2032.

Salt Lake City is one of multiple cities vying to bring in an MLB expansion team; ESPN previously reported that it appears Utah’s capital and Nashville, Tennessee, are currently at the top of the expansion leaderboard.

In February, the Larry H. Miller Company unveiled renderings for the $3.5 billion Power District development, which included an MLB ballpark.

“We are passionate about this once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in our capital city,” Starks said. “This project will serve as a vibrant extension of and gateway to downtown Salt Lake, complements the mission of the State Fairpark, and brings the Jordan River to life. The Power District will be a gathering place for Utah’s families to live, work, play and enjoy the best views in Major League Baseball.”

Big League Utah also said a ballpark could become an Olympic venue if Salt Lake is chosen to host the 2034 Winter Games, hosting medal ceremonies and concerts or big air snowboarding competitions. On Wednesday, the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games announced 13 proposed venues as part of its 2034 bid.

Big League Utah also noted the NHL hosts an annual Winter Classic outdoor game, and a potential Utah NHL franchise could host such a game at the new ballpark.

Ryan Smith — owner of Smith Entertainment Group, the parent company of the Utah Jazz, Real Salt Lake and Utah Royals — has formally asked the NHL to begin the expansion process with the goal of bringing a franchise to the Beehive State.

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