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EDITORIAL: Are the A’s looking to take up a part-time residency?

Officials with the Oakland (for now) A’s squandered a prime opportunity to connect with the Las Vegas market when they announced recently that they would play home games in Sacramento rather than Southern Nevada beginning next year until the completion of their proposed stadium on the Strip, scheduled for 2028. They’re stumbling again by making noise about potentially playing a handful of home games away from Las Vegas each season even after the new 33,000-seat ballpark is open for business.

As part of the stadium process, the Major League Baseball club has presented a proposed 30-year non-relocation agreement to the Las Vegas Stadium Authority, which will oversee the operation of the new facility on the southeast corner of Tropicana and the Strip. A draft copy of the document reveals that the team seeks permission to play as many as eight home games a season somewhere else each season. That’s nearly 10 percent of the home schedule.

A’s President Dave Kaval told the Review-Journal’s Mick Akers this week that such games could include “gem” events, such as the annual contest held at the Field of Dreams park in Iowa or international games scheduled by the league to promote the growth of the game in growing markets.

This would be “a huge way to promote the brand, to promote the city with Las Vegas on the chest in Korea or Japan,” he said.

Maybe. But those games are few and far between for most teams. They’re rare events, with MLB officials choosing the participants in advance for maximum draw. Suffice it to say that if the A’s don’t improve their on-field product, they’re unlikely to be considered for special neutral site games or series. But it sounds as though the A’s may have something additional in mind. A handful of “home” games each year in Northern California or Salt Lake City, perhaps?

Nevada lawmakers last year lured the team with $380 million in public funding for the $1.5 billion stadium project. They didn’t take this extraordinary step only to have the A’s take up a part-time residency. If the franchise plays 10 percent fewer games a season in Las Vegas, economic projections will decline accordingly, as will the bonding capacity for the venue.

Ensuring that the team is free to participate in special events by potentially playing a home game or two away from Southern Nevada every great while might be appropriate. But seven or eight games a year is a significant hit. The Stadium Authority Board — led by Steve Hill of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority — should ensure that the final agreement is much friendlier to Las Vegas taxpayers and baseball fans.

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