After long, drawn-out sagas to land MLB ballparks, the Oakland Athletics and the Tampa Bay Rays are on the verge of finally securing new facilities.
The A’s revealed plans this year to relocate from Oakland to Las Vegas to build the team a new stadium in a new market.
This week the Rays announced their intent to construct a new ballpark in Florida, which would keep the team in St. Petersburg. The new facility would be built near Tropicana Field, the team’s current home.
Although steps remain before both projects are finalized and shovels are ready to be put in the ground, it appears both teams are on their way to having ballparks ready for the start of the 2028 season.
Here’s how the two stadium plans stack up.
The A’s estimate the cost of their Las Vegas ballpark to be $1.5 billion, with a public-private partnership in place to pay for constructing the facility. In June Gov. Joe Lombardo signed into law Senate Bill 1 that earmarks up to $380 million in public funding for the project. That would be split between contributions from Clark County and the state.
Which leaves the A’s on the hook for more than $1 billion for their part of the construction costs. That would be paid for via a mix of capital and private equity. The A’s would be required to pay project costs running over the $1.5 billion price.
The Rays ballpark is expected to cost $1.3 billion and would also be paid for via a public-private partnership.
The city of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County would contribute $600 million combined, with the Rays expected to pay the remaining $700 million. The MLB team would be required to pay any cost overruns on the project.
The A’s plan to construct a 33,000-seat ballpark on 9 acres of the 35-acre plot of land where the Tropicana sits. The team will share an additional 3-4 acres of the site with Tropicana owner Bally’s Corp. for a mini entertainment district leading from the Strip to the Stadium.
Additionally, the site is on what’s arguably the greatest entertainment district in the world, the Las Vegas Strip.
Plans call for the Rays ballpark to be 30,000 seats and to be incorporated into a large master plan to redevelop 86 acres of land with hotel, housing, entertainment, retail, office space and public lands. That would be carried out over a 20-year time span. The total cost of carrying out the adjoining stadium development is $6.5 billion.
The A’s are expected to make their ballpark designer choice next month after a competition they are holding between two groups concludes. So definite plans are still in the works.
The team has expressed interest to have a partially retractable roof and/or operable walls to give the facility the option to have an open feel and to still be able to be completely closed during the sweltering summer months.
Brad Schrock, A’s director of design, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in July that at the time more conversations were had regarding a retractable wall, similar to the one located on Allegiant Stadium’s north end.
Various seating options are being discussed including high-end suites located by the playing field, club spaces and general reserve seats. The A’s are looking to cater to a variety of fans in Las Vegas, with Schrock noting the ability to add more premium seating spaces in Las Vegas than they could have in Oakland.
The Rays plan to have a fixed-roof stadium, with mobile and transparent walls to allow for an outdoor feel, but still be climate controlled.
There will be three seating levels of the stadium, with club seats and suites, viewing decks and social gathering spots to provide a variety of options for fans.
The latest amenities and technology are expected to be incorporated into the ballpark, with an aquarium exhibit and kid zones planned.
With the A’s ballpark plan including moving from Oakland to Las Vegas, MLB owners must first approve of their relocation.
The A’s submitted their relocation application last month and it is being reviewed by the MLB appointed relocation committee. A relocation vote is expected to occur at the MLB owner’s meeting in November, when the A’s need 75 percent of teams to vote in favor of their move.
Additionally, the A’s need to strike various deals with the Las Vegas Stadium Authority before construction begins. That will take place over the next several months, with three meetings scheduled through the rest of the year, with more expected to be added as 2024 nears.
With the Rays deal announced just this week, the public funding element of that deal still needs to be officially approved. Pinellas County and St. Petersburg officials are expected to begin the process that could lead to the approval of the spending in the fall. That process is likely to take until early next year to conclude.