With embarrassing attendance numbers and no viable stadium deal in sight, the Oakland Athletics need a hero. Enter Elon Musk.
Elon Musk’s very public $43 billion Twitter takeover bid has polarized the Twitterverse.
But the richest man on Earth could spend just a fraction of that and help move America’s pastime forward in the process. What if, instead of buying Twitter, he decided to save Major League Baseball and take a shot at California in one fell swoop?
The answer seems so obvious, and it would only cost Musk some minuscule pocket change. At $1.18 billion, the Oakland Athletics are the fourth-least valuable franchise in baseball with a laughably low payroll— a prime example for why baseball should have a salary floor— and a stadium situation holding the sport back.
Tuesday night against Baltimore, an unbelievably embarrassing 3,748 people attended the 2-1 win at RingCentral Coliseum.
That was lower than Tuesday’s attendance at five Triple-A games, three Double-A games, and four Single-A games! Among those dozen minor league games that beat the Oakland Athletics’ attendance were the Las Vegas Aviators, the A’s own Triple-A affiliate, who drew 5,607 to Las Vegas Ballpark for a 9-7 win over the El Paso Chihuahuas.
The A’s have managed to be above the bottom five in average home attendance just three times in the last 15 years. It just isn’t working there.
Elon could put down $2 billion, move the team to Las Vegas, and start solving some problems. The Aviators could even move to Oakland in the most demeaning franchise swap possible.
Billionaire A’s owner John Fisher has failed to find a stadium solution in the Bay Area for many years now, despite having the team slash payroll by 64% and openly discussing a move to Vegas himself. Why the hell would fans want to show up? Why should he keep getting to own a once proud franchise where Hall of Fame legends like Jimmie Foxx, Lefty Grove, Rickey Henderson, and Reggie Jackson spent their primes — helping the team win nine World Series titles in its storied history?
If there’s any franchise in North American pro sports most ripe for disruption, it’s the Oakland Athletics. After stints in Philadelphia, Kansas City, and Oakland, imagine the Las Vegas A’s with Musk at the helm in a $1 billion climate-controlled stadium capable of hosting other offseason concerts and key sporting events? It would immediately become one of baseball’s crown jewel franchises. And we know someone as competitive as Elon would spend what it takes to put a winner on the field.
Just for the hell of it, he’d probably even promise a baseball game on the moon or Mars within the next 10 or 15 years.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has said that expansion from 30 to 32 teams won’t happen until stadium situations are resolved with the A’s and Tampa Bay Rays. This would be the first important domino in bringing the sport to better baseball cities like Nashville, Charlotte, Portland, Montreal, or Mexico City.
One major hurdle would be the approval from other owners, who have certainly held the sport back in the past. But if they let Steve Cohen purchase the New York Mets, why not Elon? Baseball has been too risk averse, and the league has been lapped by the NFL and NBA of late. Musk buying the A’s and moving them to Vegas would be a large step on the long road to change that.
Baseball and Elon Musk are very flawed in their own unique ways. Bringing them together would help MLB finally move forward in its quest to keep up with the times. Unlike his attempted purchase of Twitter, Musk buying the Athletics as a precursor to saving baseball is something most of us can strongly get behind.
Let’s make it happen.