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Source: A’s, Lombardo have discussed team’s move to Las Vegas

The Oakland Athletics have already met with recently inaugurated Gov. Joe Lombardo on a potential move to Las Vegas.

Team brass met with Lombardo and discussed what options the team had in regard to public-private partnership opportunities, a source with knowledge of the proceedings told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Lombardo on Wednesday night said through a spokeswoman that although he isn’t in favor of creating a new tax to lure a professional team to the state, there could be other avenues to entice an interested franchise.

“Governor Lombardo will not raise state taxes to bring a sports team to Nevada,” Lombardo’s spokeswoman Elizabeth Ray said in a text message. “However, the Oakland A’s, or any other team or company looking to relocate to Nevada, may or may not be eligible for a variety of existing economic development programs in the state.”

The A’s have been researching the Las Vegas Valley for nearly two years for potential relocation. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred gave the team the green light to pursue relocation after deeming their current stadium, RingCentral Coliseum, unfit for the team’s future. A’s owner John Fisher, team president Dave Kaval and other executive members of the team have made several trips to Southern Nevada since May 2021.

A source indicated that the team is looking for some kind of public assistance if it were to move to Southern Nevada to build a $1 billion, 35,000-seat, retractable dome ballpark.

What the opportunities Lombardo hinted at and have chatted with the A’s about remain to be seen.

When Tesla committed to build a massive gigafactory in Northern Nevada in 2014, the state provided them $1.2 billion in tax abatements. The facility was noted at the time to be a $6 billion capital investment that would lead to the creation of 7,000 jobs.

Those tax benefits will be realized over a 20-year period, with Tesla having to meet certain requirements each year to receive the tax benefits.

The A’s appear to have zeroed in on a potential Las Vegas site. A source a month ago indicated that the A’s were down to the Las Vegas Festival Grounds on the north end of the Strip and the Tropicana site on the south end.

But earlier this month a spokeswoman for casino magnate Phil Ruffin noted there had been no recent talks between him and the A’s regarding the festival grounds site. Meanwhile, Bally’s Corporation President George Papanier, who oversees the company’s land-based casino operations, confirmed to the Review-Journal that talks between them and the A’s on the Tropicana site were ongoing. Bally’s oversees the operation of the Tropicana, which appears to be the MLB team’s preferred Las Vegas site.

In Oakland the city recently missed out on up to $183 million after the U.S. Department of Transportation recommended denial of its Mega Grants Program grant application that would’ve gone toward offsite infrastructure work needed if the A’s planned Howard Terminal project were to move forward.

The $12 billion mixed-use project would be centered around a $1 billion, 35,000 capacity waterfront stadium and include residential, commercial,and public space.

The applied for grant was just a portion of the hundreds of millions of dollars needed for the infrastructure work.

Fred Kelley, director of the Oakland Department of Transportation, said although missing out on the funding was a blow to the project, that it in no way means it would be put on hold.

“While we are disappointed to have not been selected in the first round, we believe we put forward a strong application and are well positioned to secure other funding sources,” Kelley said in a statement. “We will continue to pursue other funding sources to ensure our projects have the resources they need.”

The city noted that it has already secured $375 million that could go toward the work needed for the ballpark district, which allows the city to continue work on the design phase of these projects without delay.

“Continuing to raise funds is a priority, not only for the Waterfront Ballpark District project but to implement long-standing priorities that have been outlined in the city’s capital improvement plan,” the city said in a statement.

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

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