MLB could get 1st stadium named for health system

Health system names have been showing up on MLB jerseys and NHL helmets, but never before has one adorned the name of a stadium in one of the Big Four sports leagues. That could soon change.

MLB's Oakland Athletics are reportedly eyeing Sutter Health Park in West Sacramento, Calif., as a destination for their 2025 season as the team prepares to depart its longtime home. The minor-league ballpark is named after the 22-hospital system based in nearby Sacramento.

The A's plan to move to a new $1.5 billion Las Vegas stadium in 2028 after not securing a deal for a new park in Oakland. But the team's lease at the Oakland Coliseum expires at the end of the 2024 season, leaving the franchise without a home for three years.

Sacramento officials said the move could showcase the city's ability to permanently host an MLB franchise should the league decide to expand. "I'm not shy in saying this is a great baseball town," Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg told the San Francisco Chronicle.

A's executives reportedly toured Sutter Health Park earlier in January. The team is also said to be looking at other sites in California, Nevada and Utah, but Sacramento might hold an advantage because it could allow the A's to retain their local TV rights deal. Its capacity of about 14,000 fans, however, is low by MLB standards.

"We're eager to witness A's games at Sutter Health Park and extend our full support to ensure a triumphant journey for the A's and their devoted fans in the region," West Sacramento Mayor Martha Guerrero told the Sacramento Bee.

Sutter Health signed a 15-year naming rights deal for the baseball stadium beginning in 2020. The ballpark is home to the Sacramento River Cats, the Triple-A affiliate of MLB's San Francisco Giants.

While health systems have yet to score a naming rights deal for a Big Four (MLB, NBA, NFL and NFL) stadium, several grace the names of MLS soccer fields. Other than that, the closest thing is the Buffalo Bills' Highmark Stadium, which is named after payer Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York, whose parent company, Highmark Health, owns Pittsburgh-based Allegheny Health Network.

Separately, Sutter Health reportedly signed a $13 million naming rights deal in December with the new National Women's Soccer League franchise Bay FC, which will play in San Jose, Calif. Players will wear the health system's name on patches on their jerseys.

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