A professional sports team is never just about the athletic competition. It’s a symbol for its hometown, uniting otherwise varied residents in dreams of victory. It creates a diaspora, its fans still fans even when they move elsewhere; it defines a neighborhood and spawns para-economies. It links generations of families and even dictates how we spend our nights and weekends.
So when Dave Kaval, the president of the Oakland Athletics, announced last month that the team had entered a purchasing agreement on a ballpark site in Las Vegas, the news wasn’t just a blow to hardcore baseball fans. It prompted soul-searching throughout the city: What is Oakland, now that it’s likely losing its third major-league sports team?