Updated February 18, 2022 - 3:09 pm
A plan to build a new Major League Baseball stadium in the Bay Area took another step forward Thursday, but Las Vegas hasn’t yet struck out on the chance of luring the Oakland A’s here.
The Oakland City Council voted 6-2 Thursday night to certify the environmental impact study for the Oakland Athletics’ planned $12 billion Howard Terminal project, one that includes a $1 billion, 35,000 fan capacity waterfront stadium.
“Tonight’s vote by the City Council was a historic moment for Oakland’s future,” Mayor Libby Schaaf said in a statement following the vote.
“Now that the final environmental impact report has been certified, the floor is set for negotiating robust community benefits that out residents demand and deserve, as well as the final development agreement,” Schaaf said.
Despite the favorable vote in Oakland, A’s President Dave Kaval said the process of scouting locations for a possible ballpark in Las Vegas is still ongoing. Team officials were last in Las Vegas in January, meeting with those who own a handful of plots of land the organization is interested in as possible sites for a new stadium.
“It’s a necessary, but not sufficient milestone,” Kaval said Friday of the city council vote. “We (still) have the big economic deal now that has to be worked out with the city of Oakland.”
The search in Las Vegas
The council’s approval of the study was a necessary step toward launching the project and the council’s ultimate goal of keeping the A’s in Oakland. There are still several steps to go, with multiple points of concern that must be worked out by Oakland officials and the A’s before a binding term sheet for the project is signed.
“We’re going to continue with them on that effort while at the same continuing negotiation with the handful of sites that are remaining in Southern Nevada to try and have a a finalist soon for a place for us in the desert, which would be really exciting,” Kaval said.
Last May, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred gave the A’s the OK to explore possible relocation from Oakland after the stadium process in the Bay Area dragged on. Southern Nevada is the only market the team has seriously looked at.
Team officials, including Kaval, have been to the Las Vegas Valley several times since Manfred’s green light, looking at various sites and meeting with area stakeholders on the possibility of a $1 billion, 30,000-plus-seat stadium being built in the area.
During their most recent trip to Southern Nevada last month, Kaval said representatives from the A’s were working toward landing their preferred site.
“Term sheets are being traded between key parties and we hope to come to a positive outcome to one of the handful of sites shortly,” Kaval said. “We also want to be thoughtful to how we approach it and how we invest in potential partners.”
The A’s have looked at several potential ballpark sites in Southern Nevada, including in the Resort Corridor, Henderson and Summerlin. But with market feasibility, traffic and parking study data in hand, the A’s are focusing on one area.
“The Resort Corridor, when we did the market feasibility, was really at the top of the list,” Kaval said. “I think that makes us more inclined to look at sites in that area. But I wouldn’t totally rule out the other sites. But I would just say the data from the surveys… was just very, very positive on having a stadium in the Resort Corridor that was still accessible to locals. So, creating that balance is what we’re looking to do.”
A deal by summer?
Kaval is steadfast that the A’s need to get a deal done in Oakland or Las Vegas by this summer since the team’s lease at its current home, the aging RingCentral Coliseum, runs out in 2024.
The Oakland City Council’s vote in favor of the environmental certification came after an eight-hour long meeting, which included around five hours of public comment. There was a healthy mix of Oakland area residents for and against approval of the environmental study.
Kaval said the team and Oakland officials have been negotiating a final development agreement since July, but there remain unresolved issues. Some of the issues revolve around affordable housing, community benefits and infrastructure.
“There is a list of outstanding items and the two sides are working and discussing them,” Kaval said. “We haven’t come to an agreement yet; obviously that remains to be seen how that plays out. Also, the timing of it… We really need to get to some type of resolution this summer.”
Earlier this month, Las Vegas was the center of the sports world, hosting the NFL’s Pro Bowl and the NHL All-Star game during the same weekend. The city’s ability to host those games and their associated events during the week without issue caught the eye of MLB.
“When I was at the owners meeting in Orlando last week, Major League Baseball, really all of us, see that as a really positive attribute to Las Vegas,” Kaval said. “That it can both support and amplify these incredible gem events, I think that would bode very well for baseball and we need a baseball stadium there to make that happen. It’s another great reason to have a MLB team in Southern Nevada.”