It’s arguable that no American city has seen more changes to its pro sports scene than Oakland has over the last decade — and additional changes are coming with the planned arrival of baseball’s Oakland Ballers.
The city has lost the NBA’s Golden State Warriors to San Francisco’s Chase Center, the NFL’s Raiders to Las Vegas, and now MLB’s A’s to Sin City as well. In an attempt to fill the A’s void, the Pioneer League unveiled plans on Tuesday to establish a franchise in Oakland starting in 2024.
The independent Pioneer League, based in the Rocky Mountain area, lost its affiliated status after MLB’s 2020-21 restructuring of the minor leagues but still has a partner relationship with MLB as a testing ground for new ideas.
The Ballers will join a recent influx of new franchises in Oakland, including the United Soccer League’s Oakland Roots. A forthcoming Bay Area WNBA expansion team will also have its front office and training facility in Oakland. In a direct reference to the A’s, the team will be known as the B’s and wear the same green-and-gold colors.
“Our team was ripped away from us,” the Ballers said in its announcement, which included a pledge to never leave town. “Now, we’re stealing baseball for the people of Oakland.”
Bucks For The B’s
Ballers co-founders Paul Freedman and Bryan Carmel are helping lead a group of nearly 50 local investors that collectively contributed $2 million in initial funding toward the team. The Ballers will also deploy a crowdfunding campaign to solicit additional contributions from the public.
The team will play at Oakland’s Laney College, and former Seattle Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu will be the club’s executive vice president of baseball operations.
The Pioneer League will announce plans for a second team based in Northern California in January.
The arrival of the B’s, meanwhile, is happening as Oakland mayor Sheng Thao is pushing for the city to retain the A’s name and branding for a potential MLB expansion franchise.