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A’s study success of Raiders, other pro teams in Vegas relocation process

Updated March 18, 2024 - 10:39 am

Oakland Athletics brass are looking closely at their former Coliseum co-tenant and other local professional sports franchises as they take steps toward bringing the team to Las Vegas.

Heading into their fifth season in Las Vegas this fall, the Raiders have laid a blueprint for the A’s of how to relocate a major league sports team to Southern Nevada.

A major key to that team’s success was partnering with various local resorts, striking multiple deals and highlighting signage of different partners throughout Allegiant Stadium.

MGM Resorts, Wynn, Boyd Gaming, Caesars Entertainment and the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, which operates the Palms, all signed lucrative multiyear, founding partnership deals with the Raiders and Allegiant Stadium.

“It’s obviously really difficult for people in Oakland, the East Bay area, to lose a team, but seeing the success of the Raiders in Las Vegas is something that has absolutely given us a lot of confidence that this market is ready for all sports,” John Fisher, the team’s owner, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal last week.

The A’s already have had discussions with various hotel operators as they work toward construction beginning next year on a planned $1.5 billion, 33,000-capacity ballpark to be built on 9 acres of the 35-acre Tropicana hotel site.

“We’ve had great conversations with Derek Stevens from Circa all the way down the Strip to the Wynn and Caesars to Circus Circus,” Fisher said. “It’s really important to us that we have great relationships with the resorts.”

Stevens confirmed that he’s had a handful of meetings with Fisher and A’s President Dave Kaval about what a partnership deal might look like when the team lands here in 2028. Stevens said they are still early in the process, noting the A’s still have aspects of the stadium deal to develop. But he reiterated that he is a huge supporter of Major League Baseball coming to Las Vegas and he looks forward to being involved in it.

“I threw out a number of concepts and ideas to them, I think one way or another we will certainly be working together,” Stevens told the Review-Journal. “What the form is, it’s still early. But one way or another we will be working together in some capacity.”

MGM Resorts promises to be a key partner for the A’s in relation to game day operations, as the resort group operates the Luxor, Excalibur, New York-New York and MGM Grand. Each hotel has its own parking structure, providing thousands of parking spots, which will play a crucial role on game days.

“The innovative design of the Athletics’ ballpark will make it a welcome addition to an already vibrant and evolving end of the Las Vegas Strip,” MGM Resorts President and CEO Bill Hornbuckle said in a statement last week. “We look forward to welcoming our new neighbors and all of the fans they will attract to our destination.”

Fisher foresees MGM Resorts as being a “fantastic partner” given the available parking at the neighboring properties and the number of rooms the resort giant has around the planned ballpark that can be filled with stadiumgoers.

Vegas fans deliver

Outside of partnerships, the fans in Las Vegas have proven to be proud supporters of the area’s pro sports teams.

The Raiders sold out their season tickets and personal seat licenses before Allegiant Stadium was even constructed. Raiders games have consistently been a hot ticket on the secondary market, with droves of visiting fans populating games at Allegiant.

The reigning NHL Stanley Cup champion Golden Knights have averaged more than 18,000 fans each season since 2017-18 when they began playing at T-Mobile Arena. The Las Vegas Aces, which relocated to the city in 2018, sold out the 2024 season ticket allotment, the first time a team has done that in WNBA history.

The Aviators, the A’s Triple-A affiliate, began playing at Las Vegas Ballpark in 2019. In its four seasons there (the 2020 season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic) the team has averaged 7,409 fans per game at a ballpark with a capacity of just under 8,200.

Learning the local market’s strength has been an exciting part of the A’s understanding of the Las Vegas market, Fisher said.

“Everyone knows Las Vegas as the entertainment capital of the world, it draws 40-plus-million visitors a year. But what is less known is the strength of the local market and how family oriented it is,” Fisher said. “Everywhere we’ve gone, locals have talked to us about the importance of baseball and many of them grew up with it. They’re here in Vegas and they’re Dodgers fans, Giants fans, or A’s fans. Now we’re going to be able to bring a ballpark to Vegas and have people, hopefully everybody, become A’s fans. Just like they have become fans of the Golden Knights, the Raiders and Aces.”

‘Great sport for Las Vegas’

The A’s are keenly aware of the potential that tourists offer for filling seats. A study by Las Vegas firm Applied Analysis, commissioned by the A’s, projects that up to 400,000 people will visit Las Vegas each year to attend games and events at the Strip ballpark.

“We think that baseball is a great sport for Las Vegas because, among other things, we play our games during the summer. That’s when the resorts are really trying to attract people to come to Las Vegas,” Fisher said.

Under MLB’s new balanced schedule, the A’s will play a home and away series against each American League club, each season. They also will play one series against each team from the National League each season, with the home ballpark alternating each year.

Fisher said he believes the balanced schedule will help the team succeed.

“We think that balanced schedule is absolutely made for Las Vegas, in our ability to attract people from all over the country to come in and spend a few days in this amazing place to watch their home team take on the A’s,” he said.

Stevens, who owns the downtown properties Circa, The D and the Golden Gate, said sports tourism has been huge for the city, especially post-COVID-19. He sees the A’s and MLB fitting perfectly in the mix, especially given the lull in the convention calendar in the summer.

“I’ve always thought baseball tourism was important. Now since COVID, sports tourism overall has just exploded. … To see sports tourism where people are really coming together to visit friends and family on a neutral site is amazing.

“Then you throw in the closer, which is Las Vegas,” he added. “Everybody wants to come to Las Vegas to see their team. We see this with the Golden Knights and the Raiders. We’ve seen the impact of how the Raiders, when they’re home, how they impact businesses throughout (the valley). It’s awesome.”

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

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