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A’s reportedly looking at Tropicana for Vegas ballpark site

Oakland A'sThe Oakland A’s have reportedly put in a bid for the 35-acre Tropicana Hotel site on the Las Vegas Strip as the team looks to add a ballpark to what’s already become a concentrated sports location.

The Tropicana is one of Las Vegas’s last legacy resorts, opening in 1957 and, despite some renovations, still retains some of that old Vegas charm. Bally’s Corp. entered a purchase agreement with Gaming and Leisure Properties to buy the hotel and lease the land for $308 million earlier this year, but the deal hasn’t closed. That’s leading to speculation that Bally’s would be a partner on the development of the project, with the A’s building the ballpark and owning the land and Bally’s building a casino and resort on the site. And, quite honestly, it’s a pretty good site, and with an A’s ballpark it could cement the area’s status as a sports Mecca, with T-Mobile Arena, Michelob Ultra Arena at Mandalay Bay and MGM Grand Garden Arena within a short walk and Allegiant Stadium a mile-plus walk away. It’s well-served by freeway access, and the 35-acre site abuts McCarren International Airport.

“As we have seen with the NHL and the NFL, Las Vegas is a great place to have a pro team,” Clark County Commission Vice Chairman Jim Gibson said in a press statement. “We have the best fans in the country, and if this comes to fruition, it would be very exciting to welcome Major League Baseball to our community.”

Here’s the thing: the A’s have done a pretty good job at faking out the media on where team owners would like to build a ballpark and succeeded in launching a bidding war in Sin City. We’ve been reporting on what the A’s are telling local elected officials, who themselves say they’re been led one direction by the A’s but ended being led astray, as evidenced by this report from a local television station:

“I have talked to the folks from the Oakland A’s a couple of weeks back,” said Gov. Steve Sisolak, D-Nevada, whom I met Wednesday at an event. I told him about this latest stadium scoop regarding the Trop.

“That wasn’t one of the sites they mentioned to me. They did mention to me it’s on the corner of Trop and Dean Martin,” said Sisolak, referring to property farther west on Tropicana owned by the Fertittas, owners of Station Casinos.

CNBC also reported the Wynn Golf Course was in contention, while land owned by Caesars is no longer being considered.

Other reports, however, say the Caesars site–presumably the Rio Hotel site we’ve discussed as being a contender in the past–is in play and the Wynn site is not. And then there’s the offer of free land in Summerlin. And then there’s the issue of how serious a bid, as first reported by CNBC, the A’s submitted for the land; if it’s not a serious bid, it could be seen more as a negotiating ploy with Vegas interests and Oakland politicians than a solid game plan. So until the A’s owners stand up at a press conference with a signed purchase agreement in hand and a ballpark financing plan to present, we’re guessing the speculation will continue.

Meanwhile, no matter where the A’s might end up in Vegas, team owners will need to come up with their own financing plan, as Sisolak says he won’t call a special session to use hotel taxes for any part of the ballpark budget:

Sisolak said the A’s have inquired about possible public financing for the stadium, but only in generalities.

“They wanted some public money. In what form, they didn’t really specify,” Sisolak said….

“They asked about room taxes, and I said that’s not going to happen,” Sisolak said. “I don’t know if they know what they’re looking for exactly. I explained to them that I didn’t want to be a stalking horse. They said they weren’t doing that, and they were serious about this.”

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