‘A’s’ Las Vegas dream no longer a pipe dream!


MLB owners approve Oakland A’s move to Las Vegas Image: Oakland Athletics

The Major League Baseball (MLB) owners unanimously approved on November 16th the Oakland Athletics’ relocation to Las Vegas (US).

‘LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL’ stated that the ‘A’s’ needed at least 23 votes – or 75 percent of the 30 franchises – for approval of their move to Southern Nevada.

The Oakland Athletics are an American professional baseball team based in Oakland. The Athletics compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the American League West division. The team plays its home games at the Oakland Coliseum.

The 63,000-capacity Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum is a multipurpose stadium in Oakland, California, United States. It is part of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Complex, with the adjacent Oakland Arena, near Interstate 880. It serves as the residence of the Oakland Athletics.

The new Las Vegas Stadium is a planned retractable roof ballpark to be built on the site of the Tropicana Las Vegas in Paradise, Nevada (US). It is planned as the new home stadium of the Oakland Athletics of Major League Baseball (MLB), when the team relocate from Oakland to Las Vegas.

‘LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL’ further stated that the MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said during a news conference that he is excited to add the Las Vegas market to the league – “Tremendous support locally for having the ‘A’s’ there. We believe over the long haul that Las Vegas will be a great asset to Major League Baseball.”

New York (US)-based Major League Baseball (MLB) is a professional baseball organization. One of the major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada, the MLB comprises 30 teams, divided equally between the National League (NL) and the American League (AL), with 29 in the United States and 1 in Canada.

If the ‘A’s’ complete other required relocation steps, it would give Las Vegas its fourth major league sports franchise. The Vegas Golden Knights were the first, beginning play as a National Hockey League (NHL) expansion team in 2017.

The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA’s) Las Vegas Aces relocated from San Antonio (Texas) in 2018, and the National Football League (NFL) team Las Vegas Raiders moved from Oakland in 2020.

The success of those teams made the market especially attractive to the ‘A’s’ owner John Fisher, who said during his first trip to the valley in 2021, when MLB said the franchise could explore relocation, he knew the market could work – “We landed, saw some of the military guys there and took a picture with them, and they told us how excited they were for the potential for the ‘A’s’ coming to the market. Then we went to the Strip and saw all the energy that is there. And then we went out to Summerlin and saw the Aviators (the Minor League Baseball [MiLB] team Las Vegas Aviators) play in the greatest minor league ballpark in baseball. It became very clear that not only was the community, both locals and visitors, passionate about sports, but they’re passionate about baseball. And that’s ultimately what’s going to make us successful, is having an incredibly passionate local fan base.”

The Governor of Nevada Joe Lombardo said he’s excited to welcome the ‘A’s’, noting the economic impact it will have on the valley – “As more and more Americans are finding out – and as the MLB owners recognized today (November 16th) Nevada is a great State to do business. This relocation will bring thousands of new jobs to our State while also generating historic economic development and providing a return on public investment for the direct benefit of the Nevada taxpayers.”

Approved for Public Funding

The ‘A’s’ plan to build a $1.5 billion, 33,000-seat stadium on nine acres of the 35-acre Tropicana Las Vegas site on the Strip.

Stated Soo Kim, Chairman of Bally’s Corporation which owns the Tropicana, “This is a huge win for the City to realize yet another major league franchise is coming to Vegas. I think it’s great for baseball, because they can showcase their product to 40 million-plus visitors to Vegas, many of which are international. That will help keep the sport growing strong.”

Bally’s Corporation is a gaming, betting and interactive entertainment company headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island (US). It owns and operates 15 casinos across 10 States, a horse track in Colorado and online sports betting operations in 14 States. The company was founded in 2004 as the BLB Investors.

Lined with upscale casino hotels, the neon-soaked Strip is quintessential Las Vegas. As well as gambling floors, the vast hotel complexes house a variety of shops, restaurants (ranging from mainstream to high-end) and performance venues for music, comedy and circus-style acts. Attractions like the soaring, choreographed Fountains of Bellagio and the High Roller observation wheel draw crowds.

Bally’s is locked in at providing the nine acres for the ‘A’s’ to build their ballpark, Kim said. The two sides will share about three acres of space leading from the Strip to the stadium, of which Bally’s will have control.

Said Kim, “They’re limited to nine acres. We do have the responsibility that they have ingress and egress. The shared space is really our space, that we’re responsible to provide access to their space. We’ll obviously do it in a way that’s congruent to the ballpark but meets our commercial requirements. … It’s still nine acres. That was the deal, and it’s not changing.”

The franchise still needs to finalize various agreements with the Las Vegas Stadium Authority, a requirement to receive up to $380 million in public funding passed in June by the Legislature as Senate Bill 1 and then signed into law by Governor Lombardo.

The ‘A’s’ would be tasked with securing more than $1 billion to finance the ballpark’s remaining construction costs. Initial plans call for construction to begin in April 2025 and be completed in January 2028 in time for the start of the season.

Manfred said the public funding that the ‘A’s’ secured was a major factor in the decision to waive the relocation fee, which would have cost the ‘A’s’ hundreds of millions and been divided among the 29 other franchises – “We felt that a relocation fee in this particular situation was inappropriate. There were significant expenditures by John Fisher and his family to get this stadium built. It’s a billion-and-a-half dollar project.”

The ‘A’s’ will play at Oakland Coliseum through the 2024 season, when their lease at the aging ballpark expires. It is unclear where they would play during the 2025 through 2027 seasons. Summerlin’s 10,000-capacity Las Vegas Ballpark and the MLB team San Francisco Giants’ 42,300-capacity Oracle Park is options, as is an extension of the ‘A’s’ lease at the Coliseum.

To make way for the planned stadium, the Tropicana will first have to be demolished and the site cleared before construction can begin.

The exact details of when the Tropicana will shutter and demolition will begin are still being finalized, Kim said. But officials expect the work to begin next year.

Bally’s also is undecided on how to develop the rest of the Tropicana site, where the company plans to build a new hotel.

Added Kim, “We’re still talking about the scope of it, in terms of which way we want to go. It could be one phase and a larger project, a multiphase, smaller to start and larger over time.”

Oakland Remains Obstinate

Despite the unanimous vote, the Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao remains optimistic that the ‘A’s’ ultimately will stay in the Bay Area -“We are disappointed by the outcome of this vote. But we do not see it as the end of the road. We all know there is a long way to go before shovels are in the ground and that there are a number of unresolved issues surrounding this move.”

The City tried to get the owners’ attention in Texas. When some were arriving on November 16th for the start of the three-day meeting, a plane pulling a banner that read – ‘A’S’ BELONG IN OAKLAND —#VOTENO” flew above the hotel where they were meeting adjacent to the 40,300-capacity Globe Life Field.

But in the end, none of them was swayed, and Manfred said relocation was the only answer – “The fact of the matter is, there was never a deal in Oakland.”

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