A’s Move to Sacramento Puts the City in an Unfamiliar Sports Role

Once the Oakland A’s leave the East Bay, it will mark the end of its existence in Oakland after 57 seasons.Credit…Jungho Kim for The New York Times

Sports fans in Sacramento suddenly find themselves playing the unfamiliar role of villain.

They endured years of nearly losing their only major-league franchise, the Kings of the N.B.A., to a bigger market with more money and more national stature. They were awarded a Major League Soccer expansion team in 2019, only to have the plan collapse when the billionaire leading the effort backed out during the pandemic.

The scars from those events are only now beginning to heal, and many Sacramentans swore they would never do unto others what was done to them.

But that’s what fans will have to come to terms with, now that the Oakland Athletics have officially announced that they will relocate 90 miles up the freeway next season and play their home games in the capital region while their permanent new home is being built in Las Vegas. The move will mark the end of the team’s 57-year tenure in Oakland — and the end of major-league sports in the East Bay.

The franchise, which won four World Series titles in Oakland, and whose chief baseball mastermind was portrayed by Brad Pitt in the film “Moneyball,” will begin competing next season in a minor-league ballpark where children now roll down a grassy hill behind right field and fans bring their dogs to Wednesday night games.

The stadium, Sutter Health Park in West Sacramento, directly across the Sacramento River from downtown, will surely look different when the A’s take the field in 2025. Sacramento has long dreamed of being a Major League Baseball city, and there’s little doubt that the A’s will draw larger crowds than they have in Oakland the past few years, when the franchise’s owners seemed to go out of their way to alienate the passionate fan base.

More than a decade ago, I covered the lengthy effort by Sacramento leaders to prevent the Kings from moving to Anaheim, Virginia Beach or Seattle. Kings fans were just as anxious and distraught as A’s fans have been recently, viewing other cities with deep suspicion.

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