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A’s could play up to 7 ‘home’ games outside of Vegas after relocation

Updated June 5, 2024 - 7:28 pm

The Oakland Athletics could play up to seven home games per season away from Las Vegas and the team’s planned $1.5 billion Strip ballpark, as part of the team’s proposed nonrelocation agreement.

The A’s 30-year draft agreement presented last month to the Las Vegas Stadium Authority notes that the team would play its home games at the planned Las Vegas stadium through the duration of the agreement.

It also said that, despite the team pledging to play most of its home contests at the 33,000-seat stadium, it shouldn’t be prohibited from playing up to seven home games outside of Las Vegas in any single season.

A’s President Dave Kaval said those games could be international games or one-offs, such as the recent Field of Dreams games in Iowa and the planned June 20 game between the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals at the historic Rickwood Field in Alabama, the site where baseball great Willie Mays began his professional career with the Negro Leagues.

The “gem events,” along with international games played in other countries, promise to be “a huge way to promote the brand, to promote the city with Las Vegas on the chest in Korea or Japan,” Kaval told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in a phone interview Tuesday.

“It’s a big deal that helps build a profile not only of our team, but the community,” he said.

The A’s wouldn’t necessarily play seven home games outside of Las Vegas each season, Kaval said, but the agreement language would create a cap on how many home games the team could potentially play outside of the market.

With the nonrelocation agreement still being finalized ahead of a possible vote as soon as the July 18 stadium authority meeting, the number of outside-of-the-market home games by the A’s could be reduced, if it’s deemed necessary during negotiations, Las Vegas Stadium Authority Board chairman Steve Hill said.

“That’s one of the areas we’re still discussing — the number,” Hill told the Review-Journal in a Tuesday phone interview.

Public funding effects?

Senate Bill 1, the public funding mechanism for the A’s Las Vegas ballpark, is comprised of $180 million in transferable tax credits from the state and $120 million in Clark County bonds, on top of $25 million from the county to be used for infrastructure improvements that would be needed around the stadium site, planned for 9 acres of the 35-acre Tropicana hotel site.

The county’s portion of the public financing could be affected by how many home games the A’s are approved to play outside of Las Vegas each year because its bond capacity would be limited. The bonds will be repaid via tax revenue generated by events at the stadium. So the number of potential games the A’s are approved to play outside of Las Vegas will be factored in because of the potential for up to seven home games a year not to be played in the stadium, Hill said.

“The amount of bond revenue the A’s are going to get from the stadium authority and the county is going to be less because of that,” Hill explained.

The Tropicana is in the process of being demolished, to pave way for the A’s planned April groundbreaking on their future Las Vegas home. Plans call for the facility to be ready for the 2028 MLB season.

A potential offset to that would be the A’s looking to add events at the stadium during the time they might play a home game outside of Clark County, Kaval said.

During the meetings last summer that lead to SB1 being passed by the Legislature, before Gov. Joe Lombardo signed it into law last June, consulting firm Applied Analysis noted that the stadium would host 95 ticketed events annually, including A’s home games.

Hill, who also serves as president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, said that number, provided by the A’s and hospitality group Legends, is a conservative estimate of what he thinks is possible at the A’s stadium.

“We have better insight to what we can put into the stadium I think than anybody else,” Hill said of the LVCVA. “The number of ticketed events that were projected and shown during the legislative session we know are very conservative. We will beat those numbers.”

Similar to recent agreements

Around 30 percent of MLB stadiums’ nonrelocation agreements don’t feature a cap on how many games MLB could ask to be held outside of a team’s home ballpark, Hill said.

“Whether they play in their stadium or not is subject to Major League Baseball rules,” Hill said. “That’s an unlimited number. … We wanted to make sure that there’s a cap and it’s not just an unlimited whatever Major League Baseball decides.”

The language in the A’s nonrelocation agreement regarding out-of-market home games — equating up to nearly 9 percent of home games — is similar to some recently signed agreements by other teams and their respective jurisdictions.

The Seattle Mariners in 2018 signed a new 25-year lease with the Washington State Major League Baseball Stadium Public Facilities District that includes $135 million in public funding toward renovations and maintenance at T-Mobile Park. Under the lease terms, the Mariners signed a nonrelocation agreement with state officials that allows for 10 percent of the team’s home games to be played outside of the Seattle area.

Late last year the Baltimore Orioles struck a new lease agreement with the Maryland Stadium Authority to secure millions in public financing for a planned renovation of Oriole Park at Camden Yards. That included a 30-year nonrelocation agreement allowing the MLB team to play up to six homes games per season outside of that team’s market.

“They are handled in a wide variety of ways, these nonrelocations, but I don’t think what we’re doing is that different and actually have some benefits to the stadium authority,” Kaval said.

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on X.

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