Updated April 20, 2023 - 9:35 pm
Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao’s announcement Thursday morning that her city’s negotiations with the Athletics had ended signaled a point of no return for the A’s, who now clearly seem on their way to Las Vegas.
What happens to the Aviators?
“The Aviators are going to stay as part of this,” Kaval said. “Kind of like how there’s the Golden Knights and Silver Knights, we’re going to have the A’s and Aviators both in the community. We’re going to have our major league team and our Triple-A team co-located.”
The A’s have a lease with Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum through the 2024 season. After that, the A’s have the option to play the 2025 and 2026 MLB seasons at Las Vegas Ballpark, the Aviators’ home.
“Between then and opening here, we’d have to determine what the best options are,” Kaval said. “We’d probably lean on Major League Baseball on what they think makes the most sense.”
The team’s proposed $1.5 billion, 30,000-seat retractable roof stadium on a 49-acre parcel of land near the Strip is scheduled for completion in time for the 2027 major league season.
As one door closes in Oakland, other questions confront the A’s as they prepare to move to Southern Nevada.
What about the team’s nickname?
Just like it did when the franchise moved from Philadelphia to Kansas City in 1955, and then again when the team relocated to Oakland in 1967, the A’s name will also be planted in Las Vegas.
“This is a team that goes back to 1901, one of the original members of the American League,” Kaval said. “One of the iconic names and brands in all of sports, really. The A’s are something that we’re really proud of and it is something that could create a lot of excitement here in Las Vegas.”
What about the drought and the demands of watering another water-dependent field?
With the A’s planning a partially retractable roof and the sun issues that would create to keep natural grass healthy, Kaval noted it is all but likely the team will use an artificial turf field in Las Vegas.
As he has in the past, Kaval used the Texas Rangers’ Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, as an example of what a Southern Nevada MLB ballpark would look like. That includes the partially retractable dome and artificial turf.
“We’re looking at a stadium that is climate-controlled because sometimes you play in the summer and sometimes in the day, so we need this climate controlled for our fans,” Kaval said. “We’re looking at options for partially retractable domes and how that could work out in an effective way.”
How will the A’s Las Vegas stadium be financed?
The A’s will shift their focus to securing public funding from the Legislature, which would lead to the land agreement turning into a land transaction.
A room tax increase similar to what the NFL’s Raiders landed when they relocated to Las Vegas isn’t on the table. One option the A’s could pursue is creating a tax finance district where the stadium is located.
Such districts allow local governments to finance public infrastructure and other improvements. Local governments then pay later for those projects. They can do so by capturing the tax revenues generated by the project.
Whatever the agreed-upon amount of such a deal, it would be paid off by various taxes generated by stadium events and ancillary additions the team creates there.
Most state and local elected officials, such as Clark County Commissioner Michael Naft, were reluctant to comment on such a tax district, saying they had yet to see the team’s final proposal.
“There is no new tax that is being contemplated, the governor (Joe Lombardo) has been clear on that, the county has been following suit and is clear on that. … That’s really not on the table,” Naft said. “So they’re going to have to be creative and that makes it more important that we’re being eyes wide open about what that creativity means and what the cost is. Everything you do has an impact and making sure that impact isn’t greater than the investment than what we put in.”