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Las Vegas to A’s: No $, plenty of warm fuzzies

new Oakland ballpark

A trip to Las Vegas by Oakland A’s ownership yielded plenty of warm thoughts and promises of soft support from local businesses, but the team remains far from any meaningful financial contributions toward a new ballpark in Sin City.

A’s owner John Fisher and team president Dave Kaval were in Vegas to meet with resort owners on the northern end of the Strip to gauge interest and potential support for a new Vegas ballpark. The team had identified Phil Ruffin’s Festival Grounds site on the north end of the Strip as a potential ballpark site, along with the current Tropicana Hotel site at the south end of the Strip.

But the A’s have been circumspect about any talks with Ruffin, with Tropicana Field management saying there had been communication with A’s officials:

Resorts World Las Vegas President Scott Sibella confirmed that he and hotel owners from the north Strip and downtown Las Vegas met with A’s brass Wednesday. They discussed the potential of a 35,000-seat domed stadium on the Las Vegas Festival Grounds site, located on the southwest corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Sahara Avenue.

“We reinforced our support that we believe the best site is on the Sahara/LV Blvd,” Sibella wrote in an email. “Having the A’s in Las Vegas will be great for the Strip properties and the LV community.”

The meeting did not include discussions regarding economics, only that the “A’s will have our full support,” Sibella added.

Resorts World properties across Las Vegas Boulevard would definitely be a beneficiary of a ballpark located at the north end of the Strip, as would Ruffin-owned properties like Circus Circus.

Asking for support when it comes to a billion-dollar construction project isn’t exactly a hard ask from the A’s, though: of course resort operators standing to benefit from the project will offer their support and plenty of warm, fuzzy feels.

Whether that translates into governmental support for the billion-dollar project is a different thing, of course. Conspicuous by their absence: Gov. Joe Lombardo, who has come out privately against direct public funding of a new ballpark, and Clark County Commissioner Michael Naft, who has consistently said there’s no public appetite for public funding for an A’s ballpark. 

So, in Vegas we have no meaningful advocates for a new A’s ballpark–and by meaningful, we mean folks who can deliver the government support sought by the A’s–at a time when talks are still ongoing with Oakland officials on the $12 billion Howard Terminal project. If, as widely assumed, the Vegas junket was a signal to Oakland officials that Sin City is still a viable alternative, it didn’t yield any immediate results.

The A’s are proposing 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.

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