The Oakland Athletics switching potential Las Vegas ballpark sites would make the team’s dream scenario — Major League Baseball with a Strip view — a reality.
Plans for the A’s $1.5 billion, 30,000-seat stadium at the Tropicana resort site call for the baseball diamond to face northwest. When the ballpark’s partially retractable roof is open, fans who face the outfield would see the Strip in the background, according to a person with knowledge of the A’s development deal.
Tropicana owner Bally’s Corp. would demolish the resort to make way for the A’s ballpark and a potential new hotel-casino project headed by the gaming company, the source noted.
In July 2021, just weeks after MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred gave the A’s the green light to pursue relocation, A’s President Dave Kaval spoke to the Review-Journal about the attractiveness of building an MLB stadium on Las Vegas Boulevard.
“You can turn the stadium and look down and see the entire Strip, that’s pretty compelling,” Kaval said then. “We like the notion of some of the venues where people will get out of their car, or walking from a resort and they walk up and see in the stadium. … It almost draws you in.”
For all this to occur, the A’s still need hundreds of millions of dollars in public funding to be authorized by the Nevada Legislature.
Legislation for the stadium development agreement is being drafted, and a bill is expected to be introduced in the Legislature next week, the source indicated. It’s unclear if a new bill will be introduced (legislative leaders have a number of emergency bills that can be used for this purpose) or if an existing bill will be amended to include the language of the A’s agreement.
The special tax district planned to repay bonds issued by Clark County for the $395 million public portion of the agreement would encompass only the stadium, not any additional property, the source noted. This means only fans attending games or other events at the stadium would pay the taxes that would be used to repay the bonds.
A portion of the $395 million will also include state-issued transferable tax credits.
That ask is less than the $500 million the A’s were seeking for a ballpark on the Wild Wild West site, on Tropicana Avenue west of Interstate 15. The A’s have shifted their focus from that location, owned by Red Rock Resorts, to the Tropicana.
Aside from getting their funding bill passed in the Legislature, the A’s could face another hurdle: the Federal Aviation Administration.
The FAA would have to sign off on the A’s stadium, given its proximity to Harry Reid International Airport. But since the stadium would not be as tall as the existing Tropicana hotel tower, height restrictions will likely not be an issue.
At around 30,000 seats, the stadium would fill another niche in Las Vegas’ entertainment landscape. It could field events that are too big for T-Mobile Arena, which seats 17,500 to 20,000, but not large enough for the 65,000-fan capacity Allegiant Stadium.
Although the A’s site move came as a surprise, there are reasons why the change makes sense.
The $105 million reduction in the public funding request and location within walking distance of 25,000 hotel rooms surrounding the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana Avenue are at the top of the list.
Pedestrian bridges are in place, linking the neighboring properties, and the Boring Company has a station planned for the Tropicana site.
Winning Culinary support
The A’s moving on from a deal with Red Rock Resorts also removed friction with Culinary Local 226. The Culinary union and Red Rock Resorts, parent company of Station Casinos, have long been in a feud stemming from the union’s push for first-time union contracts for employees of Station properties. The Legislature’s majority Democrats are allies with the Culinary union.
The union came out in opposition to the ballpark following last month’s announcement of the plan for the Wild Wild West site, noting the A’s and the union had yet to strike a deal to allow stadium workers to have the right to unionize.
“It certainly didn’t help that they were going to partner up with … Station Casinos,” Culinary union Secretary-Treasurer Ted Papageorge told the Review-Journal.
There have been recent discussions between the union and A’s representatives, and Papageorge said the team has been willing to meet with them to continue negotiations.
Similar union agreements are in place for resorts up and down the Strip, in downtown Las Vegas and at Allegiant Stadium, T-Mobile Arena and the Las Vegas Convention Center, Papageorge noted.
“That’s the standard in Las Vegas,” Papageorge said. “We are very happy that the A’s are coming, and we expect them to honor that standard.”