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A’s land purchase could lead to new Vegas ballpark

Oakland A'sThe Oakland A’s have entered an agreement to buy 49 acres at the former Wild Wild West property off the Strip, with team officials saying their priority now is developing a new Vegas ballpark and additional offerings.

The land is located at Dean Martin Drive (the west freeway frontage road) and Tropicana Avenue, west of T-Mobile Arena and north of Allegiant Stadium. The plan, according to A’s president Dave Kaval, is to construct a $1.5-billion, 30,000-capacity retractable roof ballpark and use the rest of the 49 acres for associated development, potentially including an amphitheater in the mix. The land is being purchased from Red Rock Resorts, which will also look at development opportunities in association with the ballpark.

It’s a location that’s not on the Strip–I-15 (at its widest) as well as Dean Martin Drive represent barriers of sorts from the Strip, which is why the area is populated with the likes of Motel 6 hotels, low-slung warehouses and the Wild Wild West Truck Plaza. That makes it a challenging site, to be sure, as there’s basically no foot traffic from the Strip. Kaval says the team is looking at a pedestrian bridge across the freeway to bring in traffic, but success will rely on making the ballpark a destination and developing direct access from the freeway. The team is throwing out T-Mobile Arena and Allegiant Stadium as models and parters in a sports district, but there’s a huge difference: both facilities are on the east side of I-15 and easily accessible from plenty of resorts and casinos. Not so here. From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

“For a while we were on parallel paths (with Oakland), but we have turned our attention to Las Vegas to get a deal here for the A’s and find a long-term home,” A’s President Dave Kaval told the Review-Journal on Wednesday. “Oakland has been a great home for us for over 50 years, but we really need this 20-year saga completed and we feel there’s a path here in Southern Nevada to do that.”

With the announcement of the purchase agreement, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred concurs with Kaval and hopes the A’s shifting their efforts solely to Southern Nevada will lead to the end of the team’s yearslong quest to leave crumbling Oakland Coliseum.

“We support the A’s turning their focus on Las Vegas and look forward to them bringing finality to this process by the end of the year,” Manfred said in a statement provided to the Review-Journal.

Though the land purchase is billed as binding and team officials say they’re focusing on Vegas, we’re told the team has not exactly walked away from negotiations with Oakland over the Howard Terminal development, where the two sides are still discussing a term sheet and topics like affordable housing and community benefits. (Lots of posturing going on, as witnessed by the statement posted by Mayor Sheng Thao.) MLB and the A’s have a long track record of pitting the two sides against each other, and whether this is a true shift in plans or just another act designed to spur Oakland into action remains to be seen. The road to a new Vegas ballpark remains a huge challenge when the A’s are discussing a public-private partnership needed to finance a billion-dollar-plus ballpark. When the A’s actually go public with a financing plan to present to the state is when we’ll know how serious this development really is and how enthusiastic Nevada politicos (MIA: Clark County officials) are to fund the project.

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