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Kaval: We’re down to two potential sites for new Vegas ballpark

Oakland A'sDave Kaval says the Oakland A’s are focusing on two sites for a potential new Vegas ballpark, but three additional sites are still in play–so basically there’s little new on the venue front for the team.

Naturally, given the history of the team’s complicated courtship of Vegas, Kaval didn’t actually identify either leading site or the three alternatives, just saying that the sites are near the Strip, with one potentially to bepurchased by the Athletics and another ballpark built in partnership with an existing resort. Building on the Strip is an extremely expensive proposition; hotelier and entrepreneur Tilman Fertitta is reporting buying six acres at Las Vegas Boulevard and Harmon Avenue–currently site of a Travelodge next to Planet Hollywood–for at least $200 million, or $33 million plus per acre. And Kaval envisions the ballpark as centerpiece of a mixed-use 40-60-acre development.

Of course, land on the southern end of the Strip brings less than $33 million per acre, and it gets cheaper once you’re off the Strip. A few of the sites rumored by locals as likely A’s destinations are off the Strip, such as the Rio Hotel site discussed for months now. We’re almost into May, and the team is still hinting at potential Vegas ballpark sites after planning to announce the site last fall. And Kaval says the team has not determined whether to pursue a fully enclosed facility or a retractable-roof ballpark. From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

The potential site could be revealed next month, though Kaval cautioned the process is playing out longer than team officials had anticipated.

“It’s taking a little bit longer than we initially planned, but I think we’re getting closer and closer everyday,” Kaval said. “It’s certainly been a lot of work putting it together, which I think is good, because it shows that all the different parties are really serious about it.”

Heading to Vegas every so often makes sense for Kaval and the A’s, reminding Oakland officials that the team does have alternatives to the proposed Howard Terminal waterfront site. There are considerable economic challenges to a new Vegas ballpark, besides the cost of building a ballpark: the A’s would be the fifth major league team (assuming the announcement of a new MLS team this summer and NBA expansion there sooner than later) in what’s not exactly a huge market economically reliant on a single industry: the total population of Clark County is 2,265,461. True, the Las Vegas market does outpunch its weight when it comes to sports, but at some point the market will become saturated–and taking on a lot of debt to be the fifth option in the market may not be the best investment.

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