Philadelphia Phillies teammates Bryce Harper and Bryson Stott criticized the Oakland Athletics' planned relocation to their hometown of Las Vegas, which they say would be better served by an expansion team.
"I feel sorry for the fans in Oakland," Harper told USA TODAY in an article published Thursday (June 15) morning. "It's just not right. They have so much history in Oakland. You're taking a team out of a city. I'm pretty sad because of all of the history and all of the greatness they've seen there.
“I see the A’s as Oakland. I don’t see them as Vegas.’’
The A's reportedly purchased land near the Las Vegas strip ahead of an impending relocation, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported in April. The deal is for a 49-acre property located at Dean Martin Drive and Tropicana Avenue, which is owned by Red Rocks Resorts, the parent company of Station Casinos.
“We would rather see an expansion team than a relocated team,’’ Stott said via USA TODAY. “That’s why fans are so crazy about the Knights. It’s Vegas’ first team. It’s ours. It was kind of easy for people to gravitate towards that. Vegas wasn’t a big hockey town. It is now.
“But baseball, you have people in town liking the [Los Angeles] Dodgers, and the [Los Angeles] Angels, and the [San Diego] Padres, and the [Arizona] Diamondbacks. It will take a few generations before they have a real fandom in baseball. I’m sure they’ll sell tickets for visiting fans, which is probably all they care about.’’
Stott also acknowledged that the Las Vegas Raiders, who moved from Oakland in 2020, struggled in attendance, ranking 30th among all 32 NFL teams last season.
“I went to a lot of their games,’’ Stott added. “It’s at best, 50-50 Raiders fans and whoever they’re playing. You’re selling tickets, but you want your own fans in the ballpark.’’
Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred previously said the league supported the A's efforts to focus on a potential move to the Vegas area in a statement provided to the Review-Journal at the time of the reported land purchase.
“We support the A’s turning their focus on Las Vegas and look forward to them bringing finality to this process by the end of the year,” Manfred said.
A's president Dave Kaval said the team was planning to build a $1.5 billion partially retractable roof stadium, which is planned to include an ancillary development featuring food and beverage establishments and an amphitheater. The A's, who have played in Oakland since 1958, were initially reported to be exploring possible relocation in 2021.
Las Vegas has already added two professional sports franchises in recent years, which includes the Raiders in 2020 and the NHL's Vegas Golden Knights, who won their first Stanley Cup in franchise history this week, through expansion in 2017.