Athletics’ Sacramento plan is filled with fan conflict: ‘Unthinkable’

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Craig Merry is a massive baseball fan.

With two young sons, one would think the Sacramento native would be ecstatic at the prospect of the Athletics setting up shop just a few miles away from his home in the city’s suburbs.

But after decades of stadium drama, a bevy of concerns about franchise ownership and a looming move to Las Vegas, Merry is one of many Sacramento baseball fans with reservations about supporting the A’s as they head to California’s capital city.

The A’s will call Sutter Health Park home in 2025.

“The notion of supporting the A’s as the local team under these circumstances is unthinkable,” Merry said. “The way this situation has unfolded is an affront to the essence of sports and its fans.”

Last week, the A’s franchise announced that it was moving the team to Sutter Health Park — the 14,000-seat home of the Sacramento River Cats, the San Francisco Giants’ Triple-A affiliate – for the 2025-27 seasons with an option to play there in 2028 while they wait for a ballpark in Las Vegas to be built.

The announcement marks a crucial step for the team’s eventual move to Sin City after 57 years in Oakland during a relocation process that has been mired by fan protests and boycotts inside and outside of the crumbling Oakland Coliseum over the past year-plus.

If Ray Perez, a 36-year-old West Sacramento resident and longtime A’s fan, is any indication, those fan problems aren’t going away in Sacramento.

Managing Partner John Fisher of the Oakland Athletics in the stands during the game against the Chicago Cubs at RingCentral Coliseum on April 17, 2023. Getty Images

Despite years of long drives to see Major League Baseball in the Bay Area, Perez is going on with his boycott of the team even though the team will be steps away from his home.

“I will not watch them. I will not wear any green and gold,” Perez said. “I used to go to 10-15 A’s games a year […] I live two minutes away [from Sutter Health Park] and I won’t be going to any.”

Like Perez, Jennifer Berger-Coleman is a die-hard baseball fan, attending several River Cats games a year.

But as long as owner John Fisher’s name is attached to the team, the A’s won’t be getting a drop of her support.

Fans hold up a sign calling for Oakland Athletics ownership to sell the team. AP

“John Fisher deserves no loyalty, but the city of Oakland and the A’s do,” Berger-Coleman said. “I have to stand in solidarity and boycott anything that Fisher does that does not include them going back to Oakland. Giants fans felt the same way prior to Oracle Park being built when the team was preparing to move to Florida (in 1992).

Despite some of the locals’ concerns, it appears there’s still been a groundswell of support in Sacramento for the drifting franchise.

The River Cats, who have called Sacramento home since 2000, reported their highest single-day sales on April 4 on record.

A general view of RingCentral Coliseum during the game between the Cleveland Guardians and the Oakland Athletics on Thursday, March 28, 2024. MLB Photos via Getty Images

In the days after the relocation announcement, the team said thousands of potential season-ticket holders placed deposits in anticipation of the A’s move north.

Matt Vaca, one of nearly 3,000 people in attendance at Tuesday night’s River Cats game, the first since the team announced that the A’s would call Sacramento home next season, was one of those fans to put down a $100 deposit for 2025 season tickets.

Unlike Oakland, there weren’t many green “sell” shirts or anti-John Fisher signs in the stands and no mass protests against team ownership in the parking lot at Tuesday evening’s Triple-A game on the banks of the Sacramento River, but some enjoying the game still had a hard time squaring the A’s migration.

Even for someone like Vaca, who is excited to watch a big league team on warm spring nights like Tuesday in his Triple-A town next season, it’s a struggle to reconcile his delight as a lifelong fan of the Sacramento Kings, who were also nearly uprooted just over a decade ago.

An Oakland Athletics fan throws beanbags at a “rogues gallery” to protest ownership plans to move the franchise to Las Vegas. D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

Sheretta Lane, a season ticket-holder for the River Cats, is also caught in the middle. Although Lane and her family love attending baseball games, attending roughly 15 a year at Sutter Health Park, she admits that it will be hard to justify supporting the A’s during their tenure in her hometown.

“I’m conflicted,” Lane said. “… I’m disgusted with what ownership is doing to the A’s, but I’m a little excited to have MLB in my backyard.”

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