I have commented frequently on the potential move of the Oakland A’s to Las Vegas. As long as 4 or 5 years ago, I said that the team needed a new place to play when I read reports that a sewage backup delivered wastewater to the dugouts in the Oakland Coliseum for the second time in a season. There have been fits and starts in the plans to move or to build a new stadium in Oakland, but the scene now appears to favor the team moving to Las Vegas. It’s not a done deal – – but it sure looks as if that is how it will all end.
John Feinstein had a column in the Washington Post recently under this headline:
As greedy owners abandon Oakland, fans are innocent bystanders
From that headline, it is not difficult to fathom which side of this issue Messr. Feinstein favors and I agree that the A’s owners have not behaved like model citizens throughout all of this. Nonetheless, there are multiple sides to this story.
- The existing facility is unsatisfactory; it must be replaced.
- The officials in Oakland could not come to any agreement with the team about obtaining/building a new facility over a period of at least 5 years and maybe 10.
- The team’s lease runs out after 2024.
Call the owners greedy and I will agree with you. Try to exonerate the city officials in Oakland by putting all the blame on the owners and I will completely disagree with you. Moreover, the fans are not innocent bystanders.
- 2022: A’s average home attendance = 8,283 fans per game
- 2023: A’s average home attendance = 8,750 fans per game
- Earlier this season the Oakland Soul – – a minor league women’s soccer team – – out-drew the A’s on the same night.
Notwithstanding the headline on John Feinstein’s column, the fans are not “innocent bystanders”. They are ignoring the A’s and have been for at least the last two seasons. Maybe they are staying away because the facility is so dreadful – – but if that is the case then add the City Fathers of Oakland to the blame list. The bottom line here is that there are no heroes in the saga; there is plenty of blame to throw around. If you want to follow John Feinstein’s reasoning to see how he comes to his conclusion, here is the link to his column.
Switching gears … There is a report this morning that the University of Colorado held “substantive talks” with representatives of the Big-12 conference and that Colorado is considering a jump from the PAC-12 to the Big-12. Right now, the only reason that Colorado athletics is particularly interesting is the fact that Deion Sanders took over the football coaching job there last winter. In and of itself, Colorado is not a big-ticket item for the Big-12 – – but Colorado might just be the way for the Big-12 to expand to a point where it virtually puts the PAC-12 out of business as a Power 5 Conference.
When the PAC-12 lost USC and UCLA to the Big-10, it dealt a serious blow to that conference because those defections cost the PAC-12 a huge portion of its television base in the LA area and that is where the big money comes from. Please forget for a moment all the fantastic memories of athletic glory for the conference and the great traditions and rivalries of the remaining schools in the conference; those are all nice, but they don’t feed the bulldog.
There have been rumors for months that the Big-12 covets the so-called “Four Corners’ Schools” currently in the PAC-12 – – Colorado, Utah, Arizona and Arizona St. If they were to convince those four schools to jump to the Big 12 it would accomplish the following:
- It would give the Big 12 representation in all four time zones for the Lower 48.
- It would remove what is now the second largest TV market (Phoenix) from what remains of the PAC-12.
- It would leave the PAC-12 with only 6 teams and only 1 TV market in the Top 10 in the country.
As I said above, Colorado is not the “grand prize” in this saga, Arizona State with its TV market ranked 11th in the country is the big fish in the pond. But Colorado has linkage to the Big-12 because it used to be part of the Big-12 even in those days when the Big 12 was merely the Big-8.
Imagine for just a moment that the PAC-12 lost the “Four Corners’ Schools”. Left with only 6 schools, the conference would have to try to add schools and that will present a problem for the Conference. It is difficult to come up with a list of 6 schools that the Conference might add such that the PAC-12 maintains a semblance of “Power-5 status”. The remaining schools would be:
- Oregon St.
- Washington St.
What might fit with that footprint?
- San Diego St. – – probably – – captures some of the already lost LA market.
- Boise St. – – OK – – team is best known for its blue artificial playing surface.
- Hawaii – – Wow – – lots of traveling to be done there.
- New Mexico St. – – Wow – – they were asked to leave the Mountain West
- Idaho – – Not likely – – they have dropped down to Division 1-AA
- Utah St. – – OK – – not quite a replacement for Utah, but better than nothing
- Fresno St. – – OK – – geographically better than other possibilities
- UNLV – – maybe/maybe not?
This is off the top of my head; I have probably ignored a school or two that might be of positive benefit to a PAC-12 in need of expansion. Nevertheless, any new additions here would not replace the two teams that are already gone from the PAC-12 plus the loss of the “Four Corners’ Schools”.
Finally, let me close here with this entry from The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm:
“Confucius: Chinese philosopher from 551 BC. Known for his inspiring and humanistic quotations such as ‘Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without,’ or ‘No matter where you go, there you are,’ and ‘I can’t believe you morons think this crap is profound’.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………