Oakland Athletics long road to Las Vegas



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Oakland A’s sign agreement in Las Vegas Image: Coliseum GSVA

The Major League Baseball (MLB) team Oakland Athletics have zeroed in on Southern Nevada (US), signing a binding purchase agreement for land just West of the Strip where a major-league ballpark could be constructed.

‘LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL’ stated that the agreement is for 49 acres at the Dean Martin Drive and Tropicana Avenue in Las Vegas (US), owned by Red Rock Resorts, parent company of Station Casinos.

The Oakland Athletics (often referred to as the Oakland ‘A’s’) are an American professional baseball team based in Oakland, California (US). 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 stadium in Oakland, California (US). It is part of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Complex, with the adjacent 19,200-capacity Oakland Arena, near Interstate 880. The Coliseum is the home ballpark of the Oakland Athletics of Major League Baseball (MLB).

The ‘A’s new venue plans included creating mixed-use development with up to 3,000 residential units, up to 1.5 million square feet of offices and up to 270,000 square feet of retail uses. The proposed development at the Port of Oakland’s Howard Terminal included plans for a $12 billion mixed-use project built around a $1 billion, 30,000-seat waterfront ballpark.

Las Vegas (US)-based Red Rock Resorts, Inc. is a gaming, development and management company. The company’s segments include Las Vegas operations, Native American Management and Corporate and other. The Las Vegas operations segment includes all of its Las Vegas area casino properties and the Native American management segment includes its Native American management arrangements.

Station Casinos, LLC is an American hotel and casino company based in the Las Vegas suburb of Summerlin South, Nevada, and founded by Frank Fertitta Jr. Station Casinos, along with Affinity Gaming, Boyd Gaming and Golden Entertainment, dominate the locals casino market in Las Vegas (US).

But, with a lot of feet-dragging on the Oakland plan, the team is pursuing relocation to Las Vegas. The team has a lease agreement to play at the aging Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum through 2024.

Said Dave Kaval, ‘A’s’ President, “For a while we were on parallel paths (with Oakland), but we have turned our attention to Las Vegas to get a deal here for the ‘A’s’ and find a long-term home. Oakland has been a great home for us for over 50 years, but we really need this 20-year saga completed and we feel there’s a path here in Southern Nevada to do that.”

‘LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL’ further stated that with the announcement of the purchase agreement, the MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred concurred with Kaval and hoped the ‘A’s’ shifting their efforts solely to Southern Nevada will lead to the end of the team’s years-long quest to leave the crumbling Oakland Coliseum.

Manfred sent out a statement which read, “We support the ‘A’s’ turning their focus on Las Vegas and look forward to them bringing finality to this process by the end of the year.”

The above deal is for the land only, with the ‘A’s’ having an option to purchase an additional eight acres at a later date. Kaval said a $1.5 billion, 30,000-seat, partially retractable roof stadium would be built on the site, and that ancillary development, including but not limited to food and beverage establishments and even an amphitheater, are also in the cards.

Added Kaval, “It’s really exciting to have a site. We’ve spent almost two years doing our due diligence, working with community leaders, elected officials and everyone in town to really determine a location that could be a win for the ‘A’s’ as well as the community and public officials.”

With the location being just over Interstate 15 and West of the Strip, Kaval said the site works out for residents and visitors alike – “It’s a great location not only for tourists, because it’s in the Resort Corridor, but it’s easy to get to for the locals. About 70 percent of our fans are going to be locals, so we want to make sure we cater to them, to have a great experience at the ballpark. And this location will do that.”

The ‘A’s’ have been working with the Las Vegas economist Jeremy Aguero of Applied Analysis (financial consultant), who determined that the new ballpark would draw around 400,000 incremental visitors annually to Las Vegas.

Stated Kaval, “That’s just visitors coming only because the team is here (Las Vegas. That brings a lot of tax dollars that helps the community pay for social services and benefits and really creates a positive return on yield for the whole project.”

The Red Rock Resorts, which owns 100 total acres at the former site of the Wild Wild West property, will still control about 50 acres of land in the area once the land deal is finalized.

The ‘A’s’ portion of land in the agreement is bordered by the Dean Martin Drive to the East, Tompkins Avenue to the North, the Procyon Street to the West, and the Tropicana Avenue to the South. The additional eight acres of land that is available to the ‘A’s’ is just to the West of the 49 acres, bordered by Valley View Boulevard, Tropicana and Procyon.

The site is just over a mile North of the 65,000-capacity Allegiant Stadium on Dean Martin and is a little over a mile West of the 20,000-capacity T-Mobile Arena, which is located just off the Tropicana and Las Vegas Boulevard.

Stated Kaval, “It’s really in the sports district. So you have all the stadiums kind of clustered in one spot. I think that creates a powerful zone, a kind of energy to it that will benefit the community and also help us be successful running a baseball team.”

To further that synergy, there’s also a possibility that the ‘A’s’ would have a pedestrian bridge constructed from their ballpark over I-15 linking to Park Avenue at the T-Mobile Arena.

Added Kaval, “So you’d have this connection to the Strip, which would be great for tourists getting in and out of the location. It’s also a nice way to knit everything together in a positive way and extend the vibrancy of the area. It also helps the casinos in that area as well as the resorts.”

The stadium would be the site of 81-plus MLB games each year in addition to other events and concerts that could take place at the ballpark. The facility would also be a big draw to land big one-off baseball events such as the MLB All-Star game and the World Baseball Classic (international baseball tournament).

New York (US)-based the Major League Baseball (MLB) is a professional baseball organization and the oldest major professional sports league in the world. The MLB is composed of 30 teams, divided equally between the National League and the American League, with 29 in the United States and 1 in Canada.

The Major League Baseball All-Star Game, also known as the ‘Midsummer Classic’, is an annual professional baseball game sanctioned by the Major League Baseball and contested between the all-stars from the American League and National League.

The Governor of Nevada Joe Lombardo is excited about the prospect of another major-league sports team calling Southern Nevada home and is looking forward to the next steps in the process.

Lombardo said in a statement, “Welcoming the ‘A’s’ to Las Vegas would be great news for Southern Nevada as well as our entire State. The prospect of bringing new jobs, more economic development and a historic MLB franchise to Las Vegas is exciting on many levels. As we continue to navigate this opportunity, I’m in regular communication with the ‘A’s’, Major League Baseball, legislative leadership, and the local and State stakeholders.”
 

What’s Next for the ‘A’s’?

With a site now identified, the ‘A’s’ will turn toward working on a public-private partnership with the State and local officials.

The ‘A’s’ have enlisted an army of lobbyists in Carson City in Nevada for the legislative session. Kaval is one of them. Kaval noted their plan is still being developed and would be revealed at a later date -“To put a package together that hopefully can work for all parties and that can be a positive return on investment. That’s the next step in the process. Hopefully that is done in a positive fashion, and then we can go to Major League Baseball and apply for relocation.”

The Assembly Speaker Steve Yeager, D-Las Vegas, said he’s had preliminary discussions with the ‘A’s’ regarding their relocation and looks forward to furthering those discussions once the ‘A’s’ legislative plan comes into place.

Said Yeager, “I am excited about the prospect of bringing Major League Baseball to Las Vegas. When the time comes, we will vet the proposal, seek input from the interested parties and make the best decision for the people of the great State of Nevada.”

The ‘A’s’ are working against a January 2024 deadline set by the MLB to get their ballpark deal finalized.

If all goes as planned and the ‘A’s’ negotiate a public-private partnership that benefits all sides and the MLB approves their relocation, plans call for crews to break ground on the new Las Vegas ballpark sometime in 2024.

Informed Kaval, “Then opening for the 2027 season. That’s the current plan right now. Obviously things need to fall into place … but I think that is an achievable timeline right now.”
 

How the ‘A’s’ got here with Las Vegas

The MLB first pushed the ‘A’s’ to pursue a new ballpark in 2009, with the Commissioner’s office stating at the time, “The ‘A’s’ cannot and will not continue indefinitely in their current situation.”

The ‘A’s’ weren’t able to successfully land a new stadium before then-MLB Commissioner Bud Selig left his position and was replaced by the current Commissioner Rob Manfred.

Stated Manfred, “For more than half a century, the MLB has demonstrated overwhelming franchise stability and a consistent record of finding local solutions. The ‘A’s’ have done their part to stay through an enormous investment in Oakland, their many playoff berths, outstanding baseball operations leadership and an abundance of patience. Under John Fisher (owner of Oakland Athletics), the ‘A’s’ ownership has invested unprecedented time and resources to try to build a new ballpark in Oakland.”

The ‘A’s’ have been working with Oakland officials on the planned $12 billion Howard Terminal project, which is centered on a $1 billion waterfront ballpark near the Jack London Square. Since the Oakland City Council approved its own version of a term sheet for the project in July 2021, the ‘A’s’ and City officials have been working to resolve issues between the two sides. Many of those issues still remain, inducing offsite infrastructure costs and affordable housing.

Las Vegas came into the fray in May 2021 when Manfred gave the ‘A’s’ the green light to explore relocation to Southern Nevada. In recent years, the National Football League (NFL) team Las Vegas Raiders left the Bay Area in 2020 for Las Vegas, and in 2019 the National Basketball Association’s (NBA’s) Golden State Warriors moved across the Bay, beginning play at the 18,064-capacity Chase Center in San Francisco.

Stated Manfred, “The ‘A’s’ have remained in Oakland long past the departures of other teams in the market. In 2021, given the continued lack of progress, the MLB instructed the ‘A’s’ to explore a parallel path plan with Las Vegas. Since that time, the process in Oakland has not progressed and Las Vegas has presented a comprehensive path forward for the ‘A’s’ that will preserve this historic franchise forward and set the stage for future success.”
 

Las Vegas Ballpark Location Process

During the ‘A’s’ Southern Nevada search, they once compiled a list of more than 20 ballpark sites, including locations in the Resort Corridor, downtown Las Vegas, Summerlin, and Henderson.

After reviewing feedback from a survey the team commissioned for potential season ticket-holders, it was decided to focus on areas near or on the Las Vegas Strip. Last year, that list included the Wild Wild West site, which eventually was nixed.

Since earlier this year, the team had a list of three final sites, including the Tropicana, the Rio and the Las Vegas Festival Grounds. That changed when the Wild Wild West site came back into play.

Said Kaval, “The Wild West site was the best site from the ingress-egress perspective. It was really favorable and when it became available for somewhere that could work for us, it was really something we jumped on.”

Said Jennifer Cooper, Chief Communications and Strategy Officer for Clark County, “The Clark County looks forward to welcoming the ‘A’s’ to our region, and we are in full support of adding Major League Baseball to our growing sports brand.”

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