ARLINGTON, Texas — Sitting in a conference room where Major League Baseball’s owners meetings were taking place, Oakland Athletics owner John Fisher was still trying to digest the news: His franchise had just been unanimously approved to relocate to Las Vegas.
The plan is for the A’s to begin play in Las Vegas in 2028 in a $1.5 billion, 33,000-seat ballpark located on 9 acres of the Tropicana hotel site. After visiting various sites across the valley, from Summerlin to Henderson, the allure of the Strip was too great to turn down.
“We like the location a lot, because it allows for visitors to be able to walk to the game, or take a short car ride or short Boring (Company) tunnel ride … there are a lot of modes of transportation in Las Vegas today,” Fisher said. “We also like that there is a lot of work going on at the Tropicana (Interstate 15) interchange and the widening of the roadway that is going to make it easier for locals to come to the games.”
Fisher and A’s president Dave Kaval have met with resort executives several times in the past two years. Those meetings had Fisher excited about being part of the latest reinvention of itself, this time into a legitimate professional sports team market.
“This has gone in no time, in the last five-plus years, from a city that had no professional sports teams outside of minor league, to a market that’s going to have three professional sports teams and maybe five in the next 1o years,” he said. “I think it’s going to be known as the sports capital of the world.”
A major part of the quick progression of Southern Nevada’s pro sports landscape is political leaders and tourism executives willing to work toward a resolution. That occurred in the summer when the Legislature approved Senate Bill 1 — the A’s public financing bill — during a special session. The bill was signed into law a short time later by Gov. Joe Lombardo.
“I was very appreciative that this was a top priority not only for Las Vegas but actually for the whole state,” Fisher said.
After visiting Las Vegas more than a dozen times since 2021, Fisher got to know the area quite well. Even though most of the attention to the average visitor is on the Strip, the surrounding areas and those who call the community home are what surprised him the most.
“So many people outside of Las Vegas think of the market as the Strip, and the thing that I’ve really grown to appreciate is the community around the Strip,” Fisher said. “I don’t just mean the Hendersons and Summerlins and those communities, but also downtown Las Vegas.”
Despite Las Vegas being known by the nickname “Sin City,” Fisher found the family-friendly nature of Southern Nevada to be a bright spot among many positive aspects in the valley.
“I talked to people from California who moved with their families to Las Vegas, and their response was, “This is such a great family place,” he said. “I think that is why you have so many sports team professionals living in that market and raising their families there. … That’s a really great thing that connects the teams to the community in a very positive way.”