No shovel has gone into the dirt in Las Vegas to begin construction on a new ballpark for the ultimate arrival of the Las Vegas A’s, but the team continues to work on how and where they will play in their “gap seasons”. Here is the math to explain the existence of “gap seasons”:
- The lease on the Oakland Coliseum – – or whatever they are calling it this month – – expires at the end of the 2024 season.
- The new ballpark in Las Vegas is not scheduled to be operable until the start of the 2028 season.
- Ergo, where to play from 2025 to 2027?
The acrimony that exists between the team and the power structure in Oakland will make any negotiations for a short-term lease extension difficult; moreover, it is hard to imagine loads of fans in Oakland turning out to see the team that has chosen to skip town. The A’s attendance over the past several years has been abysmal; if the A’s play in Oakland from 2025-2027, it will probably be even worse. Nevertheless, a short-term lease extension remains an option.
The team has begun to look for other interim venues and here are some possibilities:
- There is a minor league park in Las Vegas where the LV Aviators play. The facility seats 8200 and can accommodate 10,000 fans with standing room. Interlacing the A’s schedule with the Aviators’ schedule would be necessary.
- The A’s could share Oracle Park with the SF Giants. Major league teams have shared a facility in the past so figuring out the combined schedule is something for which there is some history. In addition, even though the Cubs and White Sox do not share a park, the two teams are rarely – if ever – in town on the same dates.
The A’s owner and other execs have begun to check on the possibility of playing some games in other minor league facilities in the west.
- The Sacramento River Cats play in a stadium that seats 10,600 fans and can accommodate 14,000 folks with standing room.
- The Salt Lake Bees play in a stadium that seats 14,500 and has accommodated as many as 16,500 in the past.
The simplest resolution here would be for the A’s to play in Oracle Park because that facility is obviously ready to accommodate major league teams and major league crowds. Probably, any of the minor league facilities under consideration would need some sort of “upgrading” to achieve “major league acceptability”. And the beat goes on …
[Aside: There is precedent for two teams sharing a facility on a short-term basis. In the 1970s, the Yankees took 2 years to modernize Yankee Stadium and for that time the Yankees and Mets both played home games in Shea Stadium.]
Moving on … The NFL has a “modified gambling policy” in effect for players during Super Bowl Week. Players for the Chiefs and for the Niners are barred from betting of any kind during that week including casino games and sports other than football. This is more draconian than the existing regular season policy where players/coaches are permitted to gamble on things like blackjack or slot machines so long as they stay away from sportsbooks.
The NFL has a love/hate relationship with gambling. It loves the attention that gambling draws to its games and the revenues it enjoys from its “corporate partners” in the gaming industry; it also hates the idea that someone might perceive any sort of gambling activity by NFL folks as an indicator that NFL games are “rigged” in some way.
Speaking from a reality-based perspective, let me assert that the most recognizable person involved in the Super Bowl this year is Andy Reid. His visage with his trademark moustache is easy to spot; his girth makes him easy to spot at a distance. I would have no difficulty in picking Andy Reid out of a crowd. Now, having said that, I would NOT have any bad feelings or sinister suspicions if I saw Andy Reid pull the lever on a slot machine. Just saying…
Over the weekend, Kevin Blackistone had a column in the Washington Post under this headline:
- “It’s obvious the college game needs Rooney Rule”
I’m sorry, but I do not think college sports need a version of the Rooney Rule. I fully agree with Blackistone that minorities are underrepresented in coaching and athletic director positions; where we disagree is on the efficacy of the Rooney Rule to resolve that situation. The problem with the “collegiate situation” as opposed to the “NFL situation” is in the hiring decision maker.
- In the NFL, the owner either hires the coach directly or he hires a GM and then acquiesces to the GM’s choice as the coach. The decision maker is a single and identifiable person.
- In big-time college sports, it appears as if the Athletic Director at Fugue State is hiring its coach. Yes, the Athletic Director is the one who runs the press event to announce the new coach; but that decision is made in conjunction with the university administration and with the big donors to Fugue State’s athletic programs.
- So, in the college version of the Rooney Rule, who would be required to do the mandatory interviews of minority candidates?
Remember that the major distinction between a cynic and a realist is whether or not you agree with him/her. I think I am a realist here when I say that if the three biggest donors to a school’s athletic program tell the Athletic Director not to hire Joe Flabeetz, then poor Joe is not going to get the job. The same goes for the university president who may be hearing from donors to other areas of the university. It is not a pretty system, but it is one that will not be resolved by a Rooney Rule. In fact, what a Rooney Rule will do at the collegiate level is to take the number of pro forma/sham interviews and multiply them by a factor of 100.
Finally, I’ll close today with this view of cynicism by author Julian Baggini:
“If there’s one thing that makes me cynical, it’s optimists. They are just far too cynical about cynicism. If only they could see that cynics can be happy, constructive, even fun to hang out with, they might learn a thing or two.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………