It was announced this week that the Athletics had finally reached an agreement with a group of politicians to build a new stadium for the club, which has been stuck in an old facility for years.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because the same situation, with the same logic, has persisted for over 100 years. The Athletics, a bum franchise originally originating from Philadelphia before moving to Kansas City, Missouri, and then Oakland, California, never seemed content with where they were.
From an extravagant blue-laws-bound stadium in Philadelphia to a hastily rebuilt minor league park in Kansas City to a brutalist concrete mansion in Oakland, they were always on the lookout for something better. They’ve scouted Denver, called in San Jose and Fremont, and had multiple locations picked in Oakland.
But now, in a bill that will be considered by the Nevada state legislature, the team wants to build a $1.5 billion stadium on the Las Vegas Strip that would theoretically be ready for the 2027 season. The plan calls for a cap on public funding of $380 million and could be voted on once it convenes. Legislative Council on the fifth of June.
It’s a situation that sparks optimism in Vegas, heartbreaks in Oakland, and undoubtedly has some eyes rolling everywhere else. The A’s, with nine World Series titles and 17 100-loss seasons, seemed to be on the move for most of their existence.
“The vote on the transfer will likely take place as early as June,” Commissioner Rob Manfred told reporters Thursday when asked about the Las Vegas deal. But in keeping with how far the plan has to go, and how much has already changed in the past few weeks, he cited an earlier location for the stadium, rather than the team’s current plan to build on the Tropicana Las Vegas site. .
The team’s reputation for anxiety has earned. The Athletics tie with the Braves (Boston, Milwaukee, and Atlanta) and the Orioles (Milwaukee, St. Louis, and Baltimore) for the most traveled franchises. But oddly enough, the A’s have only had four home runs in 123 seasons of play—fewer than all but a few teams.
Unfortunately for the A’s, none of their four parks would ever be confused with a classic like Boston’s Fenway Park or a modern marvel like the Rangers’ Globe Life Field.
A look at the four stadiums that the Athletics team has inhabited explains why the team is permanently touring.
1901-1908 | World Championship titles: 0
MVP: Eddie Blank, B, 51 wins above the substitute
Designed for a new team in a new league where no one knew what to expect, Columbia Park was instantly too young. It had a capacity of 9,500 people, although more people were watching from nearby rooftops. The team fiddled with it, but even at its peak, the crowd was fewer than 14,000 fans.
The stadium’s most notable moment, at least in terms of its absurdity, came in the 1905 World Series when Connie Mack of the Athletics and John McGraw of the New York Giants conspired to fake rain to avoid playing in front of a sparse crowd.
As reported in The New York Times, the third match was scheduled for Wednesday, October 11, but with a crowd of about 4,000, paid for by clubs wholly dependent on ticket sales, the managers agreed to feign a slight drizzle earlier. On the day he rendered the field unplayable. Sammy Strang, accompanist for the Giants, helped sell the ruse, with The Times saying, “The usual pantomime was Strang, who jumped out from under the stage, looked up at the sky, stretched out his arms and beckoned to the dampness to let itself fall.”
The maneuver worked. The teams played Game 3 the next day, with a crowd of 10,991 nearly tripling on Wednesday.
The athletics team played another three forgotten years at Columbia, and within a decade of their departure, the stadium was demolished and replaced with housing.
1909-1954 | World Championship titles: 5
MVP: Lefty Grove, P, 68.4 WAR
Hoping to capitalize on his team’s popularity, the Athletics’ primary owner Charles Shippey built baseball’s first steel-and-concrete stadium, beating Fenway Park by three and Wrigley Field by five. The decision paid off, as The Times reported that Philadelphia’s first game of the 1909 season was attended by a record 30,162 fans. The Athletics led the AL in attendance for three straight years.
Shibe Park has been home to some great teams, with the Athletics winning nine flags and five World Series titles there, but ownership has routinely cited the state’s restrictive blue laws to limit their ability to play home games on Sundays, putting the club at a disadvantage to others. . difference. The team, desperate to raise money, also alienated the fans by blocking the nearby rooftop bleachers with a 34-foot-tall wall once dubbed the Connie Mack’s Spite Fence.
As Shibe Park began to decline, the Athletics never recovered from the sellout of the 1930 champions. They finished last or second-to-last 14 times in a 20-season span from 1935 to 1954, drawing just 304,666 fans in their final season in Philadelphia— less than they did in all but one season at Columbia Park. .
A fire broke out in the stadium in 1971 and destroyed most of it. Arthur Daly wrote in The Times, referring to Shibe under the name she used in her later years: “Connie Mack’s pitch was destroyed by fire that day”. “If nothing else, it did brighten up some pleasant memories.”
The stadium’s famous corner tower, with Mack’s original office, was demolished in 1976. The church built a sanctuary on the site.
1955-1967 | World Championship titles: 0
MVP: Ed Charles, third base, 14.4 WAR
George E. Muhlbach deserves some credit for predicting that the stadium he built in 1923 for his minor league team, the Kansas City Blues, might someday be the home of a major league team. In fact, it was all along: The Kansas City Negro League Kings were tenants of the stadium. But with his focus on the National or American League team, Muehlebach designed the stadium with large stands to allow for expansion. Unfortunately, when Arnold Johnson bought the Athletics and moved the team to Kansas City in 1955, he found that the stadium, and nearly the entire stadium, needed to be rebuilt.
Cost overruns meant the stadium’s capacity was much lower than expected, and the park was barely ready when the season began.
The A’s finished sixth in their first season at Missouri and would never have that high again, finishing their 13-season career with a record of 829–1,224 and not appearing in the postseason. Attendance has been at Municipal Stadium in all but one of the team’s last three seasons.
It wasn’t all bad. Charles O. Finley bought the team in 1960 and, amid many shenanigans, presided over an incredible array of talent, with Hall of Famers Reggie Jackson and Catfish Hunter beginning their careers in Kansas City.
The stadium was demolished in 1976. There is a park with a plaque on the old site, surrounded by a housing development.
1968 to present | World Championship titles: 4
MVP: Rickey Henderson, left field, 72.7 HR
Built in the multi-purpose stadium craze of the 1960s, Oakland Coliseum has been quirky from the start. Its circular, inscribed design gave it by far the dirtiest area in baseball. It was dug into a hill, and the playing surface was placed 21 feet below sea level. Feral cats, leaky sewage and a musky who lives in a TV booth won’t come until later.
The A’s had multiple periods of dominance in the park, winning three straight World Series titles in the 1970s and going to the Series in three straight years from 1988 to 1990 (winning once), but attendance varied widely, dropping to 306, 763 (3,787 per game) in 1979 and peaked at 2.9 million (35,805 per game) in 1990.
Unpopular changes to the stadium at the behest of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders made the boring stadium unsightly and unsightly. Park maintenance became unmanageable, and the team’s various owners continually complained about a lack of amenities.
The massive sell-off of promising players over the past few years, combined with the team’s apparent preference for Las Vegas, has led to a fan backlash. The team averaged just 9,849 fans last season, and things are even worse this year, at 8,874. It doesn’t help that the team, at 10-43 through Friday, was on track to post the worst record in baseball’s modern era.
With the Raiders already departing for Las Vegas, the Golden State Warriors moving to San Francisco and the A’s lease expiring after the 2024 season, the Coliseum complex may soon not have permanent tenants. It is then very likely that he will be consigned to a fate similar to that of the previous three gardens of A, none of which he left more than a plaque to remember.