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Vegas investor says A’s have “strong interest” in Tropicana site

Oakland A'sA Las Vegas real-estate investor controlling the Tropicana site on the Strip has met with the Oakland A’s and says they have a “a very, very strong interest” in a new ballpark development there.

A’s president Dave Kaval said this week the team was focusing its Las Vegas efforts on two sites, though three others were also under consideration. Earlier the idea a ballpark at the Tropicana site was discussed as an option, so the idea is not new. But Peter Carlino, chairman, president and CEO of Gaming & Leisure Properties, now says the 35-acre Tropicana Hotel site on the Las Vegas Strip has been discussed with the team, and that the A’s showed a “very, very strong interest” in a new ballpark there.

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, and various corporate developments–a potential sale of Bally’s, for instance–may complicate developments. 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.

The news here is not that Gaming & Leisure Properties has indeed met with the Athletics–not exactly a state secret in baseball circles–but the news is Carlino’s take on the discussions. From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

“Obviously, anything we do is tied to our conversations with Bally’s,” Carlino said during the call. “It’s been widely publicized that the A’s are looking at this site. They’ve looked at others. 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.”

Carlino said he’d be happy to complete its existing transaction with Bally’s but that if something bigger were to unfold, he’d be interested.

“There are a lot of hurdles that have to be covered,” Carlino said. “There’s absolutely no certainty about where that may go. If we can facilitate something exciting, you bet we will. There, I must say, stay tuned. We’ll let you know.”

Now, there are many reasons to be a little skeptical: Gaming & Leisure Properties is in talks to lease the site to Bally’s, and what better way to put a little pressure on Bally’s than to highlight a potential competitor for the Trop site? And if you’re the A’s, what better way to negotiate to put pressure both on Vegas landowners and Oakland officials than to float the idea of a potential deal at the Trop site? This isn’t exactly four-dimensional chess here, and bluffing during high-stakes negotiations is always par for the course–especially in Las Vegas.

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