Less than a week after MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed optimism about an Oakland Athletics move to Las Vegas, city and Nevada politicos threw cold water on the notion of any A’s ballpark public funding.
If you’ve been following the long-running saga regarding the $12-billion development of the Howard Terminal that includes a new A’s ballpark, you know there’s a certain rhythm to the proceedings. In general, city officials have been supportive of the project, though unwilling to throw bags of money at the project.
As with every historic development project, progress occurs in fits and starts. Big projects take big time. In this case, whenever there’s a lull or stall in talks, the A’s make sure Oakland officials know that Dave Kaval is still shuttling between the Bay Area and Vegas, working on a parallel ballpark plan in Sin City. (One that really hasn’t gone anywhere, by the way.)
What’s left for the city and the A’s to discuss about a new ballpark? The contentious stuff. The lease. Community benefits. Affordable housing. And the final pieces of infrastructure funding.
The hard stuff.
And with the clock ticking on a new Oakland mayor and council members after the fall elections, there is a certain urgency to the effort.
As if on cue, Rob Manfred stepped up last week during World Series festivities and said a new Oakland waterfront ballpark ballpark “doesn’t look like it’s going to happen,” leading baseball Twitter (yes, Elon Musk, please kill baseball Twitter on your way to slaying Twitter as a whole) to conclude that the A’s would shortly be on the move to Vegas. Folks with Las Vegas Ballpark said there would be no issues with the Athletics sharing Las Vegas Ballpark with the Las Vegas Aviators (Triple-A; Pacific Coast League). Load the moving trucks!
Calling a move may have been a bit premature, as it ends up, because it doesn’t appear like Vegas and Nevada wants to play footsie with the A’s. Gov. Steve Sisolak, who led the charge for public funding of Allegiant Stadium, the shiny new home to the Los Angeles Raiders, UNLV football and plenty of other events and international friendlies, isn’t quite so enthusiastic about the notion of public funding of a new A’s ballpark. Clark County Commissioners Tick Segerblom and Michael Naft concur. From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
Gov. Steve Sisolak, who played a major role in the deal that landed the Raiders $750 million in public funds that went toward the construction of Allegiant Stadium and ultimately landed the Raiders in Las Vegas, said Saturday that type of deal isn’t on the table for the A’s.
The Raiders’ tax deal, a 0.88 percent hotel room tax in Clark County set up to recoup the massive investment, was a one-time thing for pro sports, Sisolak said. With Las Vegas proving to be a thriving major league professional sports market, there isn’t a need to offer additional tax money to other leagues, Sisolak said.
“We (the state) can’t build any more stadiums,” Sisolak said. “We built one, Allegiant, we contributed to one.”
As if on cue–yet again!–an unnamed source stepped up to say that if there is no Nevada public money is available for a new A’s ballpark, the team would be forced to find another market willing to commit to money for a new A’s ballpark. Hey, maybe we’ll see a revival of the Portland Diamond Project—basically moribund since 2019.
We don’t mean to be hating on Portland or Las Vegas, but the Howard Terminal project is a highly transformative project, even if you take the ballpark out of the mix. The A’s have been terrible about Howard Terminal messaging, making it less about a massive investment in the city and more about the money they need for the ballpark to happen. The A’s have proposed a downtown Howard Terminal waterfront development featuring $12 billion in private investment, including a billion dollars for a new 35,000-capacity ballpark to replace the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum as the team’s home. The development would also include 3,000 units of housing, as well as 1.5 million square feet of office space, 270,000 square feet of retail space, a 400-room hotel, 18 acres of parkland and an estimated $450 million in community benefits. It would represent a massive makeover of the Oakland waterfront, transforming a industrial site into a mixed-use development.
But the crudities of how MLB is going about the whole Oakland ballpark effort aren’t going to sway a lot of Bay Area hearts and minds. Sophisticated messaging about the merits of the total project might work. Threats just aren’t going to work.
RELATED STORIES: No, the A’s aren’t on the move to Las Vegas–yet; Court denies challenges to new Athletics ballpark in preliminary EIR ruling; A’s ballpark referendum denied by Oakland City Council; A’s ballpark plan moves forward after approval by state agency; Another win for A’s pursuit of new Howard Terminal ballpark; A’s focusing on two Vegas sites, raises possibility of ballpark tax subsidies; New Oakland A’s waterfront ballpark receives OK from waterfront commission staff; Vegas investor says A’s have “strong interest” in Tropicana site; Kaval: We’re down to two potential sites for new Vegas ballpark; More lawsuits challenge new Oakland A’s ballpark; Lawsuit challenges new Oakland ballpark; Oakland council member raises potential referendum on $12B A’s ballpark project; Advisory board recommends against A’s ballpark at Howard Terminal site; As new Oakland ballpark plan moves forward, Las Vegas becomes long-shot bet; Oakland City Council OKs new ballpark EIR; Oakland Planning Commission approves A’s ballpark EIR; A’s reportedly looking at Tropicana for Vegas ballpark site; A’s succeed in launching bidding war in Las Vegas