Friday, April 21, 2023 | 2 a.m.
The walk is comforting. In a way, it’s therapeutic.
Approaching a Major League Baseball stadium brings back memories of our childhood, when we all dreamed of playing in the big leagues. Even if it was for just one game.
You can almost hear the public address announcer bellowing your name: And in right field for the World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates, Ray Brewer.
There’s simply nothing better than parading with your family toward a Major League Baseball stadium. Once you converge on the ballpark, you almost feel as if you are entering a historic cathedral. Then inside comes the crowning vision: the perfectly manicured green grass.
Our family knocks a different MLB stadium off our list each summer in chasing the Pirates around the nation. In 2027, we won’t have to go far.
The Oakland A’s are well on their way to becoming the Las Vegas A’s, agreeing in principle to purchase a plot of land near the Las Vegas Strip with the intentions of building a retractable-roof stadium and relocating here.
Much needs to happen to secure financing for the estimated $1.5 billion proposal, but state and Clark County lawmakers seem willing to entertain tax incentives to make another Las Vegas stadium a reality.
Team president Dave Kaval said the franchise signed the binding purchase agreement Friday for 49 acres off the northwest side of Tropicana Avenue and Dean Martin Drive. The site was most recently occupied by Wild West casino and owned by parent company Red Rock Resorts Inc., which will still maintain control of about 50 acres nearby.
Here’s hoping Red Rock develops those acres into a stadium district with shopping, food and entertainment options to help the A’s go from the worst stadium experiences in MLB to the best. After all, when it comes to hosting events, Las Vegas is the undisputed champion.
“This is a big day for the franchise,” Kaval told the Sun Wednesday. “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.”
Locals are sharing in this excitement.
For a town once repeatedly turned away by major league sports, Las Vegas is now a sports mecca. Soon, we’ll add a Super Bowl, Final Four and three major professional sports franchises to our resume.
Consider this: The arrival of the A’s would mean Las Vegas will host a major professional sports game in every month of the year.
In 2017, Las Vegas became a major professional sports city with the launch of the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena — about a mile from the proposed baseball location. The Raiders came in 2020 to Allegiant Stadium, which is also about a mile (in a different direction) from the baseball stadium site.
Football is mostly eight regular-season home games a year, usually on Sundays, and those games bring thousands of people to town for over-the-top revenue-generating weekends. The NFL owns Sundays across America.
The NHL is 41 regular-season home games a year, conducted at a fast pace with tons of anticipation. You wait and wait for a goal to be scored, sitting at the edge of your seat for the buildup of the attack and going crazy when the puck finally goes into the net. That’s especially true in the playoffs.
Baseball is different. It’s a long-haul of a season at 162 games, 81 at home. It’s relaxing to watch nine innings while sipping on a cold beer and keeping a scorecard.
You plan trips to the stadium to see certain players — imagine the A’s being here this season and getting to watch Shohei Ohtani with the Angels.
Those 81 games are significant when considering the stadium is planned to seat 30,000, and they won’t all be locals. A study from Applied Analysis projects the A’s could bring more than 400,000 additional tourists to Las Vegas annually, Kaval told the Sun’s Casey Harrison.
Because those visitors will generate tax revenue to state coffers on their stay, Kaval argues that should give lawmakers enough incentive to approve tax breaks to fund the stadium. They are reportedly asking for transferable tax credits around $500 million.
The A’s have an army of lobbyists at the ongoing Nevada Legislature to continue negotiations.
Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo has long insisted no new taxes would be created to lure the A’s or help build the stadium, but his staff said in February the club could qualify for other ongoing “economic development programs.” That could mean tax breaks similar to what Tesla received in 2014 to build its Gigafactory in Storey County and will receive for its planned $3.6 billion expansion of the factory.
“Welcoming the A’s to Las Vegas would be great news for Southern Nevada as well as our entire state,” Lombardo said in a Wednesday statement. “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.”
Kaval spent nearly two years visiting Las Vegas in plotting the team’s move. The A’s had long been working with officials in both the Bay Area and here on a new stadium, with Las Vegas finally winning out. After news broke Wednesday, Oakland officials said they stopped negotiating with the team.
Now, all that’s left is tightening the financing in the Silver State.
“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. “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.”
Kaval’s right: There’s something special about baseball. It makes life seem more simple. It gives us a reason to remember our childhood and cheer for our idols.
The Las Vegas A’s sure does sound like a home run.
The Sun’s Casey Harrison contributed reporting to this column.