The loss of the A's is bigger than just home games for tourism and city's reputation

The loss of a third major sports franchise spells trouble for Oakland's reputation.

The loss of the A's is bigger than just home games for tourism and city's reputation

Losing the Oakland Athletics to Las Vegas is much more than losing 81 home games per year.

The A's regular season wins and playoff berths were as consistent a chance to show the world and the nation a positive image of Oakland over the years as the Warriors or Raiders flashes.

The Golden State Warriors and Oakland Raiders were both relocated in Oakland after their lease ended in 2024.

Dhruv Patel, who runs several Oakland hotels under his Ridgemont Hospitality, and is also the board chairman of Visit Oakland's city tourism bureau, called the news a "sucker-punch."

Patel, 36, who grew up in Oakland watching legendary teams in the late '90s and early 2000s, told me the fact that 'we're losing a good story' could arguably be a greater consequence of the A's departure than the actual room nights, leaving a major-franchise-sized hole in the city's reputation.

It was free advertising for us. Patel stated that someone watching in London or Brazil instantly recognizes us and thinks 'Oakland's an important city'. "That will slowly fade away." You can't substitute that.

This feeling is accompanied by a sense of regret over the Howard Terminal project. Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao stated in a scathing press conference that the city was preparing for a meeting with A's officials when they received the call on Tuesday night from Dave Kaval, the A's president, informing her the team had secured the site in Las Vegas.

Patel stated that it could have been a catalyst to reverse some negative pandemic trends. It's a bit confusing to see the opposite headline.

He said that people don't pay attention to the mechanics in the backroom. They're angry and ask, 'How dysfunctional is our country?' Is it safe here? Is it safe to do business?

Oakland has been in the news a lot lately, and not for the best reasons. Whether there are increased concerns over crime or the slow recovery of downtown offices and vibrancy or the latest update to the two-decade saga of A's and Raiders with their aging stadium.

Oakland was able to create in Howard Terminal what the Giants created around Oracle Park, San Francisco and continue to enhance -- a community where people can live, work and play. The development itself created tens and thousands of union jobs as well as economic opportunities.

The potential businesses that are already in place downtown and at Jack London Square have lost out on Wednesday's news. Some of them erred by dreaming bigger.

Patel said, 'I wouldn’t be surprised if they had signed long-term contracts in Jack London Square to invest and lease because they waited for this.' It seemed real for so many years.

Patel stated that, even though the Athletics consistently have the lowest attendance rates in the league, the absence of the 81 home games per season will leave an enormous void in hospitality.

Patel noted that local hotels saw a noticeable increase in business when certain teams visited town. (Surprisingly, Red Sox fans and Yankees travel well, Patel stated), particularly in years where the A's were in the playoff race down the stretch between late July and October. Patel said that the Raiders did a "tremendous" amount of business at his hotels in Alameda, near their training facilities.

Patel remembered how the Raiders played eight football games a year, but that his industry was concerned about the loss in 'auxiliary' businesses bringing people to town from all three teams: training camps and media events; personnel; room nights, when, for example, the Nigerian basketball national team came to town with the Warriors for a training camp. The Athletics and Raiders athletes on the edge of the rosters used local hotel rooms to 'bridge' between contracts.

Patel stated that there are many different aspects of business that these corporations and organizations bring to the table that benefit the local economies beyond the inbound visits from out-of-state fans.

The news of the move comes on 4/20, the official pot holiday. This diverts attention away from the day that the city could have spent promoting its efforts to become a premier destination for cannabis tourism.

Peter Gamez is the president and CEO of Visit Oakland. He tried to find a way to make this 'disappointing development' positive. Gamez promised that the A’s move "will not break our Oakland Spirit."

He wrote: 'We offer so much to our visitors, with our beautiful outdoor spaces, vibrant arts and cultures, and diverse culinary scene.' Our strong, resilient community is proud to continue celebrating all that The Town has to offer. Oakland is so special because of this.