Oakland A’s Trim Las Vegas Search to Two Venues, Public Funding Not Off Table

Oakland A’s Trim Las Vegas Search to Two Venues, Public Funding Not Off Table

Major League Baseball’s (MLB) Oakland Athletics are honing in on two Las Vegas sites as a key vote on the team’s future in the Bay Area looms next month. It’s possible public financing for a move to the largest US casino hub is still in play.

Oakland A’s
Oakland A’s players in a recent game in Detroit. The team could be closer to announcing a move to Las Vegas. (Image: San Francisco Chronicle)

A’s President Dave Kaval met with landowners and local leaders in Las Vegas last week, but didn’t speak with the media. An unidentified source with knowledge of the matter told the Las Vegas Review-Journal  the meetings were productive and that the team’s Sin City search now centers on two undisclosed sites.

That’s down from a previous group of five, though the local rumor mill indicates the club’s search has long centered on a stadium at the site of the Tropicana, and unused land owned by Wynn Resorts. The property assets of the Tropicana are owned by Gaming and Leisure Properties.

It’s been widely publicized that the A’s are looking at this site. They’ve looked at others. I think they — I think — it’s safe for me to say that they have a very, very strong interest in our site if the transaction can work to their advantage,” said CEO Peter Carlino last month.

Bally’s is the operator of the integrated resort, and by Carlino’s acknowledgement, would need to be compensated should the Tropicana land be sold.

Public Financing Still Possible

In an interview with the Review-Journal, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority CEO Steve Hill said it’s possible public financing to support the A’s move to Sin City comes to fruition.

He didn’t go into details about percentages — MLB said it wants a new stadium to be valued at $1 billion — or from what sources the funding could be derived. But he did say an elevated room tax isn’t the answer.

His comments arrive after reports surfaced in April that Gov. Steve Sisolak (D-NV) doesn’t favor taxpayers being on the hook for any part of a new baseball stadium.

MLB reportedly wants the state to contribute $275 million toward the $1 billion stadium price tag. That’s less than taxpayers in Georgia and Texas contributed in recent years to new stadiums or enhancements to existing venues for the Atlanta Braves and Texas Rangers. However, Las Vegas already contributed $750 million to construction of Allegiant Field — home of the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders — and the city has dipped into its reserve fund to make payments on the related bonds.

A’s Moving Process Gaining Speed

It’s possible the A’s could make an announcement on a move to Las Vegas in the coming months. On June 30, the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission convenes to consider removing the port designation from Port of Oakland’s Howard Terminal, where a $12 billion mixed use project, including a new $1 billion ballpark, is being pitched.

Should the commission opt to retain that property’s port status, the project would likely never see the light of day, perhaps sealing the A’s fate in Oakland as a result.

MLB already approved the A’s potentially moving to Las Vegas, and the team has infrastructure in the city. The Las Vegas Aviators are the A’s AAA farm team and have a stadium in which the A’s can play until an MLB-caliber park is ready.

It’s rumored that if the A’s proceed with departing Oakland and the Las Vegas plan falls apart, Austin, Mexico City, Portland and Vancouver are the backup alternatives.

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