Published Wednesday, April 19, 2023 | 11:18 p.m.
Updated 11 hours, 29 minutes ago
The Oakland Athletics have agreed in principle to purchase a plot of land near the Las Vegas Strip, opening the door for the franchise to explore options to build a new ballpark, marking the latest twist in the team’s apparent relocation bid.
In a call with the Sun late Wednesday, team president Dave Kaval said the A’s signed a binding purchase agreement for 49 acres off the northwest side of Tropicana Avenue and Dean Martin Drive on Friday. The site was most recently occupied by Wild Wild West and owned by parent company Red Rock Resorts Inc., which will still maintain control of about 50 acres nearby.
“Well, this is a big day for the franchise,” Kaval said. “This is a site that is appealing to tourists because it’s in the Resort Corridor. But by the same token, it’s a fantastic place to get to for locals, the ingress and egress … we’re really excited about this location.”
Kaval quickly pointed out the site is located about one mile west of T-Mobile Arena, home of the Vegas Golden Knights, and is roughly a mile north of Allegiant Stadium, which hosts the Las Vegas Raiders.
The plan now, Kaval said, is to enter into a tenable public-private partnership in preparation to build a $1 billion, 35,000-seat stadium that is partially domed in time to start the 2027 season.
Shovels could be in the ground as early as 2024, according to Kaval.
“We’re focusing all our attention on Las Vegas now,” Kaval said. “We were on those parallel paths for a while evaluating both sides, Oakland and Southern Nevada. But now we are fully focusing our attention on Las Vegas to finalize all the necessary approvals and the public private partnership to allow us to file for relocation with Major League Baseball and to make our deadline which is coming up in January of next year.”
Kaval, who is registered in the state of Nevada as a lobbyist for the team, said he and others have been in contact with top policymakers about what a potential framework for such a partnership would look like.
Clark County has been working with the team, state lawmakers and others to “help ensure the public investment in this opportunity is sound and right for the taxpayers we are charged with serving,” Jennifer Cooper, the county’s chief communications and strategy officer, said in a statement.
“We are hopeful that the outcome of current and future discussions is a deal that protects taxpayer interest and dollars while fostering important community and workforce development initiatives into the future,” Cooper said. “We remain a committed partner at all tables to bring the right deal together for our community.”
Clark County looks forward to welcoming the A’s to the region, Cooper said. “As we have said before, no one entertains like we do and our ability to host sporting events, both in the short- and long-term, is no exception,” she said.
In a statement, Gov. Joe Lombardo praised the team for committing to the Las Vegas Valley.
“Welcoming the A’s to Las Vegas would be great news for Southern Nevada as well as our entire state,” Lombardo said. “The prospect of bringing new jobs, more economic development, and an exceptional MLB team 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 local and state stakeholders.”
Economic studies from the Las Vegas-based consulting firm Applied Analysis show the A’s could bring more than 400,000 additional tourists to Las Vegas annually, Kaval said. With that, he said, comes the potential to bolster the area’s service-based economy and generate tax revenue, which should provide incentives for the state to act.
“That’s on top of the fact that having a baseball team is awesome for the quality-of-life, and it’s exciting to really cement Las Vegas as basically the sports capital of the world,” Kaval said. “So I think all of those things together and understanding how we can put that together in a responsible way is really the task in front of us, and we look forward to digging in and doing that over the next several months.”
It’s not immediately clear where the A’s might play for the 2025 and 2026 seasons, as the team’s lease at the RingCentral Coliseum — where it has played since 1968 — expires in 2024, a team spokesperson told the Sun.
The office of the MLB commissioner could not be immediately reached.
The Sun reported previously the A’s were pursuing the site of the Tropicana Hotel as well as the Las Vegas Festival Grounds, with other local outlets reporting the team had also expressed interest in a lot near the Rio Hotel. Those all were good spots, but Kaval said a fan survey ranked the Tropicana and Dean Martin site as among the favorite for locals.
“When we did the customer surveys and focus groups, it always polled really at the top for locals,” Kaval said. “Because a lot of people didn’t want to actually go to the Strip or across the Strip. And so it was always very appealing for that reason.”
Additionally, Kaval said the A’s have an agreement in place to keep their Triple-A affiliate, the Las Vegas Aviators, at the Summerlin ballpark.
“For us, that is way preferred because it’s awesome to have your Triple-A affiliate in the same market as the Major League team,” he said. “You see that in Houston, you see that in Minneapolis. And so I think it’s just a really positive thing from a player development perspective.”
Las Vegas was first identified as a possible relocation spot for the A’s after MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred gave the team the OK to search for new cities in July 2021, and made it clear conditions at the Coliseum highlighted the need for a new stadium. The A’s had also been working with the city of Oakland to develop a $12 billion waterfront ballpark district along the San Francisco Bay.
The A’s were able to agree on a framework for a deal with the city, but haven’t been able to agree on a community benefits package for surrounding infrastructure and affordable housing, which is required for new developments in Oakland.
For Oakland, it would mark the last of its major professional sports franchises to move from the city. The Golden State Warriors, who played in Oakland until 2019, moved across the bay to San Francisco with the opening of the Chase Center, and the Raiders began play in Las Vegas in 2020.
In a statement, Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao said she was “deeply disappointed” the A’s have chosen not to continue negotiating with the city.
“The city has gone above and beyond in our attempts to arrive at mutually beneficial terms to keep the A’s in Oakland,” Thao said. “In the last three months, we’ve made significant strides to close the deal. Yet, it is clear to me that the A’s have no intention of staying in Oakland and have simply been using this process to extract a better deal out of Las Vegas. I am not interested in continuing to play that game — the fans and our residents deserve better.”