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‘Las Vegas is solid’: MLB, landowner optimistic on A’s ballpark plan

Updated February 28, 2024 - 12:49 pm

Backers of a plan to bring the Oakland Athletics to the Las Vegas Strip said they remain optimistic about the project despite a series of events that has prompted some to cast doubt on the team’s intentions.

“I think from our perspective, a lot of that is noise,” said Brandon Moore, chief operating officer of Gaming and Leisure Properties Inc., which owns the Tropicana Las Vegas site upon which a $1.5 billion, 33,000-seat ballpark is planned. “A lot of this (process) is proceeding along the timelines that we would’ve expected.”

Moore spoke during a GLPI earnings call on Wednesday. His optimism echoes comments from Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, who said “Las Vegas is solid,” while acknowledging that recent comments by Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman saying she didn’t think the Tropicana site made sense, while mainly touting the Cashman Field site in downtown Las Vegas, were “a little rough.”

“But, you know, from my perspective, (Goodman) was the first person who ever talked to me about baseball in Las Vegas,” Manfred told the San Francisco Chronicle. “I understand all politics are local, and the county is different than the city, but I think the governor and the politicians in general in Las Vegas remain committed to the deal. I think the deal is going to happen.”

The Tropicana site is in unincorporated Clark County and is governed by the Clark County Commission. Goodman oversees the city of Las Vegas, which is a separate jurisdiction with no oversight of development on the Las Vegas Strip.

Gov. Joe Lombardo and Clark County Commissioner Jim Gibson both doubled-down on their support of the ballpark project after Goodman’s initial comments were published this month in a podcast from Front Office Sports. Goodman then issued a statement clarifying that she is excited about the prospect of Major League Baseball in Las Vegas and that she would welcome the A’s to the city, should their relocation succeed.

Uncertainty prompts doubts

Goodman and a contingent of fans and media have questioned the viability of the move and stadium project, mainly due to a delay in the release of new renderings and uncertainty about where the A’s will play between 2025 and 2027 following the expiration of their lease at the end of the year at Oakland Coliseum.

This is despite the planned 2028 opening day at the ballpark being over four years away and construction kick off over a year away from its planned start.

Bally’s Corp. plan to close the Tropicana on April 2, to begin readying the site for demolition. The demolition process is expected to take between 9 months and a year to complete.

The A’s plan to begin construction on the ballpark in April 2025. Between now and then, the team must finalize a series of agreements with the Las Vegas Stadium Authority and obtain the required permitting and financing to begin construction on the stadium. The A’s are tasked with spending the first $100 million on the project before the up to $380 million in public funding is made available to them, as laid out by the stadium’s public financing mechanism, Senate Bill 1.

The A’s and Bally’s Corp., which owns and operates the Tropicana and leases the land the property sits on, are working together to finalize renderings of the site that include the MLB ballpark and a new hotel Bally’s plans to construct after the A’s begin play in Las Vegas.

“We understand at this point that Bally’s and the A’s are working pretty closely together to ensure that the A’s new stadium design and integrated resort really maximize the use of that property, that 35-acre parcel and the value that’s there,” Moore said.

Landowners have seen plans

Moore noted GLPI executives have seen the latest stadium renderings and are excited about the project’s potential.

“We’ve had an opportunity to see the stadium architectural designs, and we’ve seen several variations of the integrated resort design and we still believe the fully developed property will be a very good addition to that corner of the Strip,” Moore said. As the property owner, he said, GLPI is keeping a close eye on the project, to ensure the value of that parcel is sustained.

As part of the binding letter of intent signed in May by the A’s, Bally’s Corp. and GLPI, the A’s will pay all costs associated with the design development and construction of the stadium and Bally’s will pay all costs tied to the redevelopment of the hotel and casino. The A’s are being provided the 9 acres free of charge from GLPI and Bally’s.

GLPI will contribute up to $175 million for hard construction costs, including demolition, site preparation and the construction of public spaces to be utilized by the stadium. The agreement notes GLPI could also help fund other construction related costs, pending the circumstances.

“If we can enhance that, we’ll certainly look to do that,” Moore said. “We’re waiting to see what Bally’s is proposing to do for the integrated resort and then we will figure out what our opportunities are to invest in that and in some ways it will depend on Bally’s needs for financing. We’re kind of in a wait and see kind of mode, but we’re still optimistic that this will be a good project on the corner of the Strip.”

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

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