The Oakland A’s are a step closer to relocating to Las Vegas. New renders show the A’s proposed stadium on the south end of the Strip, on the existing location of Bally’s Tropicana Las Vegas Casino Resort. The renderings for the proposed 30,000-seat stadium designed by Schrock KC Architecture, show what would be Major League Baseball’s (MLB) smallest stadium in large part to limited outfield stands. The design features a bowl-shaped stadium with a partially retractable roof on land that the A’s have already purchased. This move would mark the establishment of Las Vegas’s third major sports team in the last decade.
Prolonged discussions to replace the aging Oakland Coliseum, which the A’s have played in since 1968, have never fully materialized. The A’s, which have previously considered moving to Richmond, California; San Jose, and elsewhere in Oakland, told Oakland mayor Sheng Thao on April 19 that they would be moving to Las Vegas despite having been in negotiations with their home city. Thao was blindsided by the decision, and felt that the team was leaving its community behind. The move comes only a few years after the Golden State Warriors moved from Oakland into a new arena in San Francisco and the Oakland Raiders moved to Las Vegas in a newly-built stadium.
The A’s winning percentage has teetered for years and this year the team is on track to lose in record-setting fashion. The team’s performance has come after rounds of selling-off star players and investing less in its payroll—in a larger context of numerous MLB teams continuing losing records for years on end amid an ever-worsening spending gap among owners. On April 28, fans actually showed up to the A’s game (the team has the worst attendance in baseball), holding signs protesting Gap-heir owner John Fisher to sell the team, which the league’s broadcast then edited out.
Often-criticized MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has indicated the league owners may vote on the team’s relocation as soon as June 13, though Nevada’s government must pass funding for the stadium for current plans to actually follow through. The proposed public-private funding model would not raise taxes on local residents, legislators in support of the stadium’s construction claim. Governor Joe Lombardo’s office introduced the funding bill to the state legislature last week, which gives legislators until June 5 to pass the bill in a simple majority vote, unless they move to debate it in a special session over the summer.
The bill guarantees up to $380 million of public funding to the A’s, $180 million would come from the state via transferable tax credits, $120 million in Clark County bonds, and an additional $25 million from the county for infrastructure costs. The bill also stipulates that the Clark County Board of Commissioners create a “homeless prevention and assistance fund” which would support rental and utility assistance, job training, and rehabilitation and counseling services. While the governor has publicly stated support for the move, some lawmakers have criticized it amid the state’s inability to properly fund public schools.
Nevada’s legislature had previously given $750 million to move the Raiders to Las Vegas, which supported the construction of a ground-up stadium. It is expected that the total cost of a baseball stadium on the strip could total $1.5 billion, which would be left to private funding sources. The team had previously said they would spend $1 billion on a relocation. The National Hockey League expansion team Las Vegas Golden Knights opened a T-Mobile sponsored arena without public funding in 2016.
While the legislative vote and MLB owners’ vote are necessary for the move, it is unclear what will happen to the Coliseum, or the A’s, as the team’s lease at the Coliseum expires after the 2024 season. This would leave at least three years between then and the potential opening of a Las Vegas stadium. Proposals have called for the team to play in a minor league stadium in Las Vegas.
AN will continue to update readers as the story progresses.