Late on Wednesday, the Oakland Athletics signed an agreement to purchase land for a new stadium in Las Vegas. The team plans on playing in the new ballpark for the 2027 season, ending a nearly six decade tenure in Oakland.
But outside of getting the stadium built, the team relocated, and plans settled for 2025 and 2026 in the years in between the end of the Coliseum lease and the opening of the new ballpark, the A’s will also need to find a new local media home in Las Vegas. The team’s games have aired on NBC Sports California (previously Comcast SportsNet California) for a decade and a half, and it doesn’t seem likely that the RSN would be keen on airing A’s games after the move (despite its carriage on several streaming, satellite, and cable providers in Las Vegas). Nor does it seem all that palatable for the A’s for their games to continue airing on a California-based RSN when playing in Nevada.
However, when it comes to possible solutions in Las Vegas, the A’s don’t have many options. Golden Knights games aired on AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain from the team’s inaugural season through this past season, but Warner Bros. Discovery’s impending exit from the RSN space means the Knights will need a new home. Would the A’s be willing to start a new RSN in partnership with the Knights while still based in Oakland? That would be the easiest solution for both teams, though it would require a significant financial outlay and the teams would need to negotiation with carriers in the region, a challenging proposition in the era of widespread cord-cutting.
The A’s reportedly have an opt-out of their deal with NBC Sports California in 2024, which lines up with the end of the team’s lease with the Coliseum. Leaving money, especially RSN money, on the table is a dicey proposition unless the team has a guaranteed revenue stream (like a new RSN in Vegas) lined up. Furthermore, if the team doesn’t opt out, they could be stuck with NBC Sports California for several more years after the new stadium opens, leaving it at the whims of an RSN based hundreds of miles away.
Going with a hybrid linear/DTC model, as the Utah Jazz, another former AT&T SportsNet team, are considering also makes sense. But to go that route, you’d need a linear partner. Without a new RSN on the ground, the A’s (and perhaps the Knights as well) would be limited to existing local networks. That could open the door for Scripps, who owns an ION affiliate in Las Vegas. What better way to make a local splash than with live rights one or two teams in a growing market like Vegas?
I’m also curious if MLB would step in, perhaps producing and distributing A’s games on their own as has been rumored for teams on the Diamond Sports chopping block. This seems like something of a last ditch solution, as it wouldn’t help the Knights at all and would also put the A’s in a difficult position if they ever wanted to get back on a traditional RSN. But if all other options are exhausted, it’s the easiest fix.
Ultimately, I think what the A’s do will largely be determined by what the Golden Knights do. If the Knights go in with a company like Scripps, I’d expect the A’s to either do the same or try to keep their potentially awkward relationship with NBC Sports California alive. If the Knights launch an RSN, I’d be shocked if the A’s weren’t a partner.
This isn’t the most urgent matter when it comes to the Athletics’ relocation, but it certainly is an interesting one given the current media landscape.