Moving Vans Needed in Oakland…Again

The moving vans are on stand-by in Oakland, California once again.

This unfortunate city located on the east side of the San Francisco Bay has already lost:

  1. A National Hockey League franchise (1976)
  2. The NBA reigning World Champions (2019)
  3. A three-time Super Bowl winning NFL team (2020)

Now, the final major sports franchise based in Oakland has recently announced that it is making plans to vacate the city.  It is quite possible that the four-time World Series Champion Oakland Athletics baseball team will become the second Oakland-based sports franchise to move to Las Vegas, Nevada.  They would join the NFL’s Raiders.

Will the last sports team in Oakland please turn out the lights on your way out of town?

If both the fans and the local government leadership in Oakland had done a better job of supporting its sports teams over the past few decades, this city would not be in the sports pickle it is now facing.

Oakland (population 423,000) is a part of the coveted #6 San Francisco television market.  Several major league franchises moved into Oakland believing that the overall market was large enough to support multiple major league teams (much like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago).

The Oakland economy revolves around shipping at the Port of Oakland.  Oakland’s diverse population includes nearly 40% of citizens over the age of 25 owning a college degree.

The year-round climate in Oakland is terrific.  The average high temperature ranges from 60 degrees in January and warms to just 75 degrees during the heat of August.   The low temperatures rarely approach freezing at any time of the winter months.

So, what exactly is the problem in Oakland?

Each sports franchise has its own failure story.  There are also a few recurring themes.


The California Golden Seals of the National Hockey League began play in the Oakland Arena in 1967.

Ice hockey simply did not catch on very well in northern California.   Nine years later in 1976, the hockey team became the first major professional franchise to leave Oakland.

The franchise moved to Cleveland.  After just two years in northern Ohio, the NHL merged the team into the Minnesota North Stars.  The North Stars ironically moved south to Texas and are now known as the Dallas Stars.

Bay Area Joke:  Did you know the Golden Gate Bridge formerly had a Twitter account? 

It was suspended.


One of the founding franchises of the American Football League in 1960, the Oakland professional football team once held a contest to name the team.  According to one source, here is how it went:

March 20, 1960 – A “Name Your Football Team” contest was held.

April 5 – The franchise announced the winning name – “The Oakland Senors”

April 14—Team announced that the nickname was (thankfully) changed to “Raiders.”

The initial announcement of the Senors as the Oakland football nickname became the first of many missteps for this pro football franchise.

The AFL’s Oakland Raiders played their first two seasons (1960 and 1961) in San Francisco.  The first Raiders home game was played in historic Kezar Stadium.  You might remember it better as the football stadium where Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry movie character finally took down the bad guy.  San Francisco’s Candlestick Park also played host for Raiders games during a portion of the team’s first two seasons.

Beginning in 1962, a temporary football stadium in Oakland named Frank Youell Field (capacity 22,000) became home for the Raiders over the next four seasons.  By the way, Frank Youell was a highly successful local undertaker in addition to being a financial backer of the Raiders.  (I believe he “dug”deeply into his own pockets to fund the temporary stadium in Oakland.)

The 55,000 seat Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum finally opened in 1966.  The stadium would be shared with Oakland’s baseball team beginning in 1968.

Here’s another fun fact about the Oakland Raiders.

The team’s legendary owner, Al Davis, was once the head coach from 1963 through the 1965 season.  He was named the AFL Commissioner for the next year and purchased a 10% ownership stake position in the Raiders franchise in 1966.  He obtained full control of the football team in 1972.

The AFL’s Oakland Raiders were brought into the NFL during the merger of 1970.  Though the Raiders had great success on the field in many seasons, the stadium (owned by the county) steadfastly refused to install luxury seating at the facility to allow the team owner to earn more money.

So, Al Davis yanked his football team away from Oakland in 1982 and relocated the Raiders to Los Angeles.  The LA Raiders failed to generate much local interest in southern California.  Al Davis was able to negotiate significant improvements to his lease with the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum (adding more seating) and brought the Raiders back to Oakland 13 years later in 1995.

After decades of public haggling about the need to build a more modern football facility for the Oakland Raiders, the team surprised its fan base by announcing a move to Las Vegas.  The Raiders left Oakland after the 2019 NFL season.  They are now known as the Las Vegas Raiders.

Raiders Joke: The NFL may soon show Raiders games on the History Channel. 

Because their fans always love to talk about the past!


Did you know that the American Basketball Association (ABA) once had a franchise called the Oakland Oaks?  No, they did not put a lot of time into coming up with that nickname!

From 1967-1969, this original ABA franchise was owned by Pat Boone, the legendary singer.  After drawing only 2,500 fans per home game, the Oakland Oaks were losing hundreds of thousands of dollars every year for their owner.  After two seasons in Oakland, the Oaks were sold and moved to Washington, DC.  They played the next season as the Washington Caps.  The name became prophetic as gunshots were frequently heard in the vicinity of the Washington Coliseum.

The NBA’s Golden State Warriors initially played in San Francisco but then moved into the new Oakland Arena in 1971.  The basketball team played its home games in Oakland for the next 48 years in Oakland.  The Warriors constructed a new downtown arena in San Francisco, and the team moved back across the bay in 2019.  B-bye, Oakland!

Bay Area Joke:  Be sure to bring your country music with you if you go to San Francisco.

They have coin operated toilets, and you’re going to need “Johnny” Cash.


The Athletics baseball team was originally based in Philadelphia.  They moved to Kansas City in 1955 after the owner decided that the “City of Brotherly Love” just wasn’t big enough to support both the National League’s Phillies and the American League Athletics.

Once in KC, the legendary Charlie O. Finley purchased control of the A’s franchise during the early 1960’s.  Though the team quickly became a winner, the fans failed to support the team in Kansas City.

In 1964, Charlie Finley tried to move the A’s to Louisville.  However, Major League Baseball nixed the deal.

In 1968, Finley finally succeeded in relocating his baseball team.  This time, it was to the West Coast.

The Athletics came to Oakland and moved into the relatively new Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.  The multi-purpose facility was already home to football’s Oakland Raiders.

The A’s won three consecutive World Series titles from 1972-1974 yet rarely drew a capacity crowd in this cavernous (for baseball) 55,000 seat stadium.

Charlie Finley’s wife filed for divorce in 1980.  She refused to accept half of the Oakland baseball team as her part of the divorce settlement.  In order to generate more cash, Finley quickly tried to move his franchise to Denver and sell it to oilman Marvin Davis.

Fortunately, a local buyer (Walter A. Haas, Jr.) emerged to purchase the Oakland A’s baseball team and keep the team in Oakland.  He bought the team in 1980 for only $13 million.

Even though the team would win one more World Series title in 1989, the Oakland A’s continued to struggle with attendance.  The team was sold again in 1995 for $72 million.  Then it was flipped once more in 2005 to the current ownership group led by John Fisher for $180 million.

Conservative estimates are that the Oakland A’s are worth nearly $1.2 billion in 2023.

Though that potential sale price may sound enticing, the annual cost of operation for the Oakland A’s baseball team far exceeds the annual revenues for the club.  Sources indicated that the team owners have been losing upwards of $50 million every single year.

The cash to meet the team’s payroll and operating costs must come out of someone’s pockets.

A few weeks ago, the Oakland A’s announced that they intend to move the baseball team to Las Vegas as soon as possible.  Ironically, Las Vegas is already home for the team’s AAA affiliate known as the Las Vegas Aviators.

Depending on what you read (and the story changes week to week), the owner is currently planning to share the AAA team’s ballpark in Las Vegas with the Athletics major league team for a few years.

Yes, both teams might be playing in the same stadium in Las Vegas beginning next season while a major league-sized baseball stadium can be constructed.

The baseball fans in Oakland are incensed.  They want Major League Baseball to force the current owners to sell the baseball team and make the new owner commit to keeping the franchise in the Bay Area.

The fans in Las Vegas are confused, too.  Do the citizens really want to spend more than $1 billion in public money to help build a new stadium for what has become the worst team in major league baseball?

Back in Oakland, the poorly aging 57-year old Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum is too cavernous for a major league baseball team.  The facility has a number of other problems – including a growing rodent population.

The Oakland baseball team pushed to get a public referendum to build a new stadium.  The measure failed.

The current owners properly note that long-term attendance patterns in Oakland prove that the market has been unable to support the team.   This season, the Oakland A’s are last in the league in attendance with about 10,000 fans per home opener.  The 30-team MLB league average is more than 26,000.

To deal with the mounting annual financial losses of the team, the Oakland A’s owner has been cutting player salaries to the bone.  As you might expect, the team currently has the worst record in the majors this season, too.   This franchise is in a death spiral.

The Athletics have been in Oakland since 1968.  The attendance woes have been an issue for decades.  Now, the team’s ownership is making plans to abandon Oakland soon.

Oakland A’s Joke:  What does the youthful Oakland Athletics fan do when his team wins the World Series? 

He turns off the PlayStation 3.

If and when the Athletics leave town, the city of Oakland will be without any major league sports teams.

No other American city will be able to break that record anytime soon.  And that is not intended to be a joke!