Oakland A’s to Vegas: Golden Knights’ Reaction, What it Means for Hockey

NHL, Vegas Golden Knights. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
NHL, Vegas Golden Knights. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

The Oakland A’s have announced they purchased land by the Las Vegas strip to build a new ballpark. The long-anticipated news (the A’s have put up embarrassingly low win totals and attendance numbers the past few seasons) put their expected relocation to Vegas in motion.

Not to mention, their stadium may or may not have a possum problem. Once Vegas’s only pro sports ticket, the Vegas Golden Knights have been joined by the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders (also an Oakland expatriate) and now the Athletics baseball team.

Don’t feel too bad for the Golden Knights. Caylee Allard, who works in digital content for the Golden Knights, said that the team is happy to have them as neighbors.

Aside from the general excitement of having the MLB next door (rumors are the possible baseball stadium will be next to T-Mobile Arena), they’re glad to see Vegas taking off as a sports city.

Golden Knights owner Bill Foley welcomed the Raiders with open arms and it sounds like the city’s NHL team is doing the same for the A’s.

What the A’s moving to Vegas means for the Golden Knights and hockey.

Oakland has lost all three of its professional sports teams over the past few years. The Golden State Warriors (who didn’t implicitly associate themselves with Oakland) played in the city’s Oakland Arena from 1971-2019.

Many cities that lose major league teams usually see minor league teams move in to provide the abandoned fan base with a new team to support.

In recent NHL history, we saw this with the Winnipeg Moose after the original Jets franchise moved to Phoenix and the Hartford Wolf Pack after the Whalers packed up their brass bonanza to become the Carolina Hurricanes.

Speaking of minor league hockey, should an AHL team consider a move to San Francisco’s little brother city? The Bay Area loves its San Jose Sharks. The Sharks moved their AHL affiliate, the San Jose Barracuda, to the area, and they both currently share the “shark tank” SAP Center.

Since the move, the Barracuda have been among the AHL’s worst teams in fan attendance. Maybe that’s because they quite literally play in the shadow of the big club. Why go to a Barracuda game when you can go to a Sharks game? After all, they both play at the same exact place.

A little ways away in Oakland, there are depressed Raiders and Athletics fans eager for a new team to support and spend their sports fan dollars on. Perhaps having a new hockey team could take away some of the sting of their other teams abandoning them.

Considering Oakland and San Jose are in the same media market, it wouldn’t be a full-scale relocation for the Barracuda and their fan base.

Oakland Arena (previously, and more well-known, as Oracle Arena during the Warriors’ recent title runs) has played host to hockey teams before. First was the California Seals of the WHL from 1966-1967.

The NHL’s California Golden Seals, one of the six expansion teams from 1967, called the arena home from 1967-1976 with varying results and off-ice exploits.

The San Francisco Bay Area hasn’t hosted another minor league hockey team (aside from the Barracuda) since the ECHL’s San Francisco Bulls played in the nearby Cow Palace from 2012-2014.

There might be a few downsides to the move. Oakland Arena has long been considered outdated. Then again, the arena is not any more outdated than the Wolfpack’s XL Center.

The Sharks might also prefer the convenience of having their farm team and big club under the same roof. Moving the team to Oakland would take away that convenience.

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When one door closes, another one opens. In this case, when one sports team leaves Oakland, it might be a perfect time for another to move in. Oakland wants a team and will take any team. The San Jose Barracuda might fill more fans in stands across the bay.