Once the Oakland A’s move to Las Vegas, fans will still have an opportunity to watch professional baseball in the East Bay.
It just won’t be a Major League club, or even a Minor League affiliate.
Driving the news: A group of Oakland-area fans are starting the Oakland Ballers, a new professional team that will play in the independent Pioneer League, according to a report from ESPN.
- The Ballers – also called the B’s – were founded by Paul Freedman and Bryan Carmel. They hired former Seattle Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu as executive president of baseball operations.
- Former St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Micah Franklin will be the B’s manager.
- The B’s ownership group has raised $2 million to start the team, which will play at Laney College in Oakland.
The backstory: The inception of the Oakland B’s came after the A’s announced their move to Las Vegas, earlier this year.
- The A’s will play in the Oakland Coliseum – their home since 1968 – through at least 2024, but the new Las Vegas ballpark will not be ready until 2028, meaning the A’s could play in a variety of stadiums in the meantime.
- Major League Baseball’s decision to reorganize minor league baseball in 2021 resulted in a similar situation fans in Oakland are dealing with, as 43 teams were cut from the minor leagues.
- The Pioneer League had been a minor league since 1939, but with the 2021 reorganization it became an independent league.
- Current Pioneer League teams are located in Idaho, Montana, Utah and Colorado.
What they’re saying: “We just felt like our hearts had been ripped from our chests, like all East Bay sports fans,” Carmel told ESPN. “Oakland is a city that has seen the Raiders leave town, the Warriors move across town. There was a lot of chatter that maybe Oakland isn’t a pro sports town. We reject that completely.”