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Hall of Famer Greg Maddux gung-ho for MLB team in Las Vegas

Updated March 30, 2023 - 1:29 pm

Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux said Thursday he’s all for bringing an MLB team to Las Vegas, be it the Oakland Athletics or an expansion team.

“Any team would be great as a fan,” said Maddux, a longtime Las Vegas resident who attended Valley High. “In a perfect world you’d like to have an expansion team, but to just have baseball here would be special.

“We’ve got the Knights and Raiders, and it would be nice to have the A’s come here as well.”

The A’s are considering the Las Vegas Festival Grounds on Las Vegas Boulevard and Sahara Avenue, the Tropicana on the south Strip and the Rio just west of the Resort Corridor, for a $1 billion, 35,000-seat retractable roof stadium.

The A’s are also negotiating details with Oakland officials regarding the planned $12 billion Howard Terminal project in the Bay Area, which includes a new baseball stadium.

If the A’s end up in Las Vegas, Maddux definitely believes a ballpark built on or near the Strip is the way to go.

“There’s millions of people in town here every weekend in Vegas,” Maddux said. “It would be great for them to come out of a casino and go see a baseball game.”

If Mike Palm, Circa’s vice president of operations, has his way, the A’s would end up on the Las Vegas Festival Grounds site.

“It’s tremendously important for downtown as far as the selection of the site,” Palm said. “Henderson would not be a great location for us or anything south Strip. Some place where we could take our customers to in 15 minutes would be huge for downtown. So we’re keeping our fingers crossed.”

That sentiment was made evident last month when a group of downtown Las Vegas and north Strip casino owners and operators met with A’s brass to pledge their full support for building a stadium at the Phil Ruffin-owned Festival Grounds site.

Circa decided to mark the first opening day in which all 30 MLB teams would play on the same day since 1968 at its facility, with Maddux throwing the ceremonial first pitch on a makeshift mound.

Maddux is also set to host a celebrity poker tournament next month at Circa, raising money for his Baller Dream Foundation, which supports those fighting cancer.

The A’s weren’t available for comment Thursday on the latest in their ballpark efforts in Las Vegas and Oakland.

The A’s possibly playing a season at Las Vegas Ballpark, which their Triple-A affiliate Aviators call home, is still on the table. If that were to happen, Maddux said it would probably be better for the A’s than playing in RingCentral Coliseum in Oakland, where attendance has been low in the past few seasons.

“It’s a great stadium. I’ve been there numerous times, and in my opinion it’s probably the best minor park in the country,” said Maddux, who retired in 2008 with 355 victories. “The attendance (at Las Vegas Ballpark) would probably be better than it is in Oakland, but at the same time we need a big place for a big league park.”

If the A’s land in Las Vegas, Maddux looks forward to re-creating the moment he had Thursday inside a downtown Las Vegas casino but this time at an MLB ballpark.

“Oh, yeah, 100 percent,” Maddux said of throwing out the first pitch at an A’s game in Las Vegas. “I’ve thrown out the first pitches before, it’s an honor and it’s a privilege. I’m kind of looking forward to it.”

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

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