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North Strip, downtown casinos give ‘full support’ to A’s

Updated February 3, 2023 - 7:40 pm

If the Oakland Athletics relocate to Las Vegas, north Strip and downtown resort operators would strongly support the team building a $1 billion ballpark in their area.

Resorts World Las Vegas President Scott Sibella confirmed that he and hotel owners from the north Strip and downtown Las Vegas met with A’s brass Wednesday. They discussed the potential of a 35,000-seat domed stadium on the Las Vegas Festival Grounds site, located on the southwest corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Sahara Avenue.

“We reinforced our support that we believe the best site is on the Sahara/LV Blvd,” Sibella wrote in an email. “Having the A’s in Las Vegas will be great for the Strip properties and the LV community.”

The meeting did not include discussions regarding economics, only that the “A’s will have our full support,” Sibella added.

After nearly two years of work in the Las Vegas Valley, the A’s trimmed a site list of more than 20 to two — the festival grounds site and the Tropicana on the south Strip.

Casino magnate Phil Ruffin, who owns the 37-acre festival grounds site, wasn’t available for comment.

Derek Stevens, co-owner of the Circa, Golden Gate and The D properties downtown, confirmed that he attended Wednesday’s meeting, adding that a lot of key players want to see the A’s relocate to Las Vegas for several reasons.

“I talked with ownership in John Fisher and their President Dave for a while yesterday,” Stevens wrote in a text message. “This will be very good for Las Vegas, very good for jobs, very good for hotel rooms (i.e. the LVCVA). The key thing is getting the location nailed down and moving forward.”

The A’s are interested in public assistance if they were to relocate to Southern Nevada, a person with knowledge of the proceedings said. Gov. Joe Lombardo said last month he would not be in favor of raising state taxes to help lure a team to Nevada, but added that there were existing economic development programs the team could utilize.

Stevens said those who complain about potential tax breaks the A’s could receive don’t understand the impact the franchise and a new ballpark could have on the valley.

“If Vegas doesn’t land the A’s, it could impact whether Vegas gets a team anytime in the near future,” Stevens wrote in the text. “Having the (MLB) Commissioner (Rob Manfred) waive the relocation fee is huge. When people say they want an expansion team that is a “Vegas Team,” people forget the expansion fee will be between $1 billion to $2 billion. Who in Vegas has that kind of money for an expansion fee and THEN have to deal with all the other elements like stadium costs and operating cash?”

The A’s also have ballpark plans in Oakland regarding a $12 billion mixed-use project at Howard Terminal near Jack London Square. That project would be centered on a $1 billion, 35,000-capacity waterfront stadium and include residential, commercial and public space.

After the Oakland City Council approved its own term sheet in July that the A’s challenged on several fronts, the two sides have been working to come to an agreement, but it’s unclear where the process stands.

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

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