It was announced this week that Atlético had finally reached an agreement with a group of politicians to build a new stadium for the club, which has been stuck in an outdated facility for years.
If that sounds familiar, it’s because the same situation, with the same reasoning, has been going on for over 100 years. The A’s, a homeless franchise that originally hailed from Philadelphia before moving to Kansas City, Mo., and then Oakland, Calif., never seemed content with where they were.
From a stadium constrained by prohibitive blue laws in Philadelphia to a hastily reconstructed minor league park in Kansas City and a brutalist concrete palace in Oakland, they’ve always had an eye for something better. They scouted Denver, poked around San Jose and Fremont, picked various sites in Oakland. But now, in an agreement announced by the Governor of Nevada still facing several hurdles, they want to build a stadium on the Las Vegas Strip that would theoretically be ready for the 2027 season.
It’s a situation that causes optimism in Las Vegas, angst in Oakland and, no doubt, some eye-rolling everywhere else. The A’s, with nine World Series titles and 17 100-loss seasons, have seemingly been on the brink of change for most of their existence.
“It’s possible that a relocation vote could happen as early as June,” Commissioner Rob Manfred told reporters Thursday when asked about the Las Vegas deal. But based on how far the plan needs to go and how much has changed in recent weeks, he cited a previous location for the stadium, rather than the team’s current plan to build on the Tropicana Las Vegas site. .
The team’s reputation for restlessness is earned. The Athletics are tied with the Braves (Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta) and the Orioles (Milwaukee, St. Louis and Baltimore) for the most traveled franchises. But in a rather bizarre quirk, the A’s have had just four stadiums in their 123 seasons of play, fewer than all but a handful of teams.
Unfortunately for the A’s, none of their four parks would be mistaken for a classic like Boston’s Fenway Park or a modern marvel like the Rangers’ Globe Life Field.
One look at those four stadiums makes it clear why the A’s have had a perpetual wandering eye.
1901-1908 | World Series titles: 0
Best Player: Eddie Plank, P, 51 wins above replacement
Built for a new team in a new league where no one knew what to expect, Columbia Park immediately became too small. It had a capacity of 9,500, though more people watched from nearby rooftops. The team played him, but even at his peak he had fewer than 14,000 fans.
The stadium’s most notable moment, at least in terms of absurdity, came in the 1905 World Series when Connie Mack’s A’s and John McGraw’s New York Giants conspired to fake a rainout to avoid playing in front of a crowd. limited.
As reported in The New York Times, Game 3 was scheduled for Wednesday, October 11, but with a crowd of around 4,000 and paying clubs reliant entirely on ticket sales, managers agreed to pretend a light drizzle earlier in the day had made the field Unplayable Sammy Strang, a Giants utility player, helped sell the ruse, and The Times said: “A typical pantomime was that of Strang jumping under the bleacher and, looking up at the sky, stretched out his arms and beckoned to the moisture to drop.”
The tactic worked. The teams played Game 3 the next day, with a reported crowd of 10,991 that was nearly triple Wednesday’s gate.
The A’s played three more forgettable years in Columbia and a decade after they left, the stadium was torn down and replaced with housing.
1909-1954 | World Series titles: 5
Best player: Lefty Grove, P, 68.4 WAR
Hoping to capitalize on his team’s popularity, Charles Shibe, the A’s principal owner, built the first steel-and-concrete ballpark, surpassing Fenway Park by three seasons and Wrigley Field by five. The decision paid off, and The Times reported that Philadelphia’s first game of the 1909 season was attended by a record 30,162 fans. The A’s led the American League in attendance for three straight years.
Shibe Park was home to some great teams, with the A’s winning nine pennants and five World Series titles there, but the property was routinely cited. the state’s restrictive blue laws for limiting their ability to play home games on Sundays, putting the club at a disadvantage against other teams. The team, desperate to raise money, also alienated fans by blocking off the nearby rooftop bleachers with a 34-foot wall that was dubbed Connie Mack’s Grudge Fence.
As Shibe Park began to wear thin, the A’s never recovered from selling out the 1930 champions. They finished in last or next to last place 14 times in a 20-season span from 1935 to 1954, drawing only 304,666 fans in their final season in Philadelphia, fewer than they had in all but one of their seasons in tiny Columbia Park. .
A fire broke out in the stadium in 1971, destroying most of it. “The fire devastated the Connie Mack Stadium the other day”, Arthur Daley wrote in The Times, referring to Shibe by the name he used in his later years. “At least, she kindled some nice memories.”
The stadium’s famous corner tower, with Mack’s original office, was demolished in 1976. A church built a sanctuary on the site.
1955-1967 | World Series titles: 0
Best player: Ed Charles, third baseman, 14.4 WAR
George E. Muehlebach deserves some credit for predicting that the stadium he built in 1923 for his minor league team, the Kansas City Blues, could one day be home to a major league team. In fact, it was all along: the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues were tenants of the stadium. But with his eyes set on a National or American League team, Muehlebach designed the stadium with a large foundation to allow for expansion. Unfortunately, when Arnold Johnson purchased the A’s and moved the team to Kansas City in 1955, it was discovered that the foundation and nearly the entire stadium needed to be rebuilt.
Cost overruns resulted in the stadium’s capacity being 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 not go that high again, ending their 13-season run there with an 829-1,224 record and no postseason appearances. Attendance at Municipal Stadium was in the bottom three in the American League in all but one of the team’s seasons.
It wasn’t all bad. Charles O. Finley bought the team in 1960 and, amid various hijinks, presided over an incredible backlog of talent, with Hall of Famers Reggie Jackson and Catfish Hunter beginning their careers in Kansas City.
The stadium was demolished in 1976. A garden with a plaque stands on the old site, surrounded by a housing estate.
1968-Present | World Series titles: 4
Best player: Rickey Henderson, left field, 72.7 WAR
Built in the multi-use arena fashion of the 1960s, Oakland Coliseum was quirky from the start. Its circular design gave the Coliseum by far the dirtiest territory in baseball. It was carved out of a hill, putting its playing surface 21 feet below sea level. Wild cats, sewage leaks and an opossum who lives in one of the TV booths wouldn’t show up until later.
The A’s had multiple eras of dominance in the park, winning three straight World Series titles in the 1970s and reaching the Series in three straight years from 1988 to 1990 (winning once), but attendances varied wildly, falling as low as 306,763 (3,787 per game) in 1979 and reaching a peak of 2.9 million (35,805 per game) in 1990.
Unpopular changes to the stadium at the behest of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders made a boring stadium incongruous and ugly. Park maintenance became unmanageable, and the various team owners constantly complained about the lack of services.
A hard sell of promising players in recent years, combined with the team’s obvious preference for Las Vegas, resulted in a huge fan reaction. The team averaged just 9,849 fans per game last season, and things are even worse this year at 8,695. It doesn’t help that the team, 10-42 as of Thursday, was on pace for the worst record in baseball’s modern era.
With the Raiders already leaving 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 have no permanent tenants. Then it would most likely be consigned to a similar fate to the A’s three previous parks, none of which left more than a plaque to commemorate them.