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A’s braintrust plans third Vegas run

New Howard Terminal rendering (3)

The Oakland A’s ownership is planning a third Vegas run in search of some sort of ballpark deal in Sin City after a negotiating session on a new downtown Oakland ballpark goes poorly.

The visit comes at a time when Oakland and the team are hashing out a potential term sheet for a new Howard Terminal waterfront ballpark off downtown Oakland. That process is not going particularly well: yesterday the team was criticized by City Council member at a work session for not including any affordable housing in the plan at a time (or, alternately, pay impact fees) when the city has made affordable housing a priority. The response from A’s President Dave Kaval: the team may use the proceeds of a new tax to pay for affordable housing or impact fees–which means Oakland citizens, and not the team, would be paying the impact fee or affordable-housing costs. From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Councilwoman Carroll Fife, who represents the district that the Howard Terminal ballpark project and its surrounding development will be built in, said the project could be a “major boon for affordable housing.”

“To ask that to be waived and then to assert that the city can use its own tax revenue that is ours to decide on how we will utilize our own money … it’s absurd,” she said.

By the end of the meeting, a majority of council members had expressed concerns about the A’s proposal — and [Council member Dan] Kalb said he was not feeling optimistic that a deal would be reached. Without support from the council, the project could die. The council is scheduled to vote July 20 on a term sheet laying out the expectations between the city and the A’s on the project proposal.

So, like clockwork, the A’s will head to Vegas to woo potential suitors on a potential new ballpark there. At one point Kaval said there were 20 or so potential locations for a new ballpark. but that’s not really the issue: the issue is who could pay for a new ballpark and under what circumstances. (Indeed, it’s an extremely short list of potential ballpark partners.) Gone is the talk of 20 or so ballpark sites; this visit will focus on suburban Summerlin and the Resort Corridor. We already know there are issues with the Resort Corridor. While the A’s expressed early enthusiasm for a location near Allegiant Stadium, home to Las Vegas Raiders and UNLV football, it’s not clear how viable that option really is. It’s an open secret in Clark County that the Raiders are dead set against a new next-door MLB ballpark—a huge obstacle in creating a sports-corridor deal–and at this point the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) doesn’t seem particularly interested in partnering with the A’s. That leaves Summerlin as a prime contender in Kaval’s eyes, per the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

“Not right now, but there are definitely some sites within the Resort Corridor that have different pros and cons,” Kaval told the Review-Journal. “There’s also Henderson that has a lot of appealing sites and then Summerlin. When I was out in Summerlin I was really impressed with Howard Hughes (Corp.), who is our partner right now on the Aviators and the huge amount of land and the vision that could create. Then obviously the options downtown. The tour we got from Derek Stevens and really seeing maybe the future of that area and the east Fremont area is pretty interesting as well.”…

Although team officials expressed their desire to also include a mixed-use development around a new stadium, that wouldn’t be the case if a new ballpark is built in the Resort Corridor, Kaval said.

“If you’re next to a resort or casino you get that naturally, but in other parts of Southern Nevada you want to actually build that around it,” Kaval said. “Whether it’s housing, or commercial or retail, we’ve seen how important that is to the success of many other stadiums in baseball. Oracle Park in San Francisco, Petco Park in San Diego, those are the models where that really works effectively, so we’d want to duplicate that same type of thing in Las Vegas.”

(To clarify: the Las Vegas Aviators are the Triple-A affiliate of the Athletics. Partner is a term used very loosely here: there’s no financial relationship between the two entities, and with Howard Hughes Corp. quietly listening to offers for the Aviators and Las Vegas Ballpark, it’s not clear whether there’s a real appetite for baseball-related development from the Dallas-based development firm.)

The A’s ownership has negotiated many parts of a term sheet committing the city and the team to what could potentially be a $12-billion development at the downtown Howard Terminal waterfront site. The proposal, first unveiled three years ago, calls for a Howard Terminal waterfront development that, according to the team, will feature $12 billion in private investment, including a billion dollars for a new 35,000-capacity ballpark to replace the Coliseum. The development would also include 3,000 units of affordable housing, as well as 1.5 million square feet of office space, 270,000 square feet of retail space, a 400-room hotel, and an estimated $450 million in community benefits. The team is asking the city for $855 million in infrastructure improvements. Also, the team would buy the remaining half interest in the Coliseum site it does not own and redevelop that area as well. (We’ll have news about that later today.)

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