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Vegas, Athletics ballpark may benefit if MLB alters playoff format

Language in the Oakland Athletics’ Las Vegas draft nonrelocation agreement includes safeguards in the event Major League Baseball chooses to alter its playoff format.

Mark Arnold, special counsel to the Las Vegas Stadium Authority, said during a May 18 meeting of the board of directors that MLB is requiring teams’ nonrelocation agreements to include a section that leaves the option open for teams to play playoff games at a single host site.

“It could be possible for the MLB to go to some model that is more like the Super Bowl, if you will, where some playoff games are played in a location that is not necessarily the home stadium of any of the teams,” Mark Arnold, special counsel to the stadium authority, said during the board’s May 16 meeting.

A’s President Dave Kaval said last week he’s not aware of any pending plans for MLB to change the league’s current playoff system, where teams alternate games between each club’s home ballpark during a series. But if that change ever happened, Las Vegas would likely benefit from it.

“Kind of like the Super Bowl, Vegas is one of the best places to have those neutral site (games),” Kaval told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “So in the end, if it ever went that direction … I think it could actually be a net-positive to Las Vegas because it would be such a natural neutral location.”

MLB last changed the league’s playoff format in 2022, going from 10 teams to 12 qualifying for the postseason each season. The single-elimination Wild Card round was replaced with a best-of-three series as part of the 2022 update. Any update to the playoff format would have to be approved by the MLB Players Association.

The A’s are also looking to leave open the potential to play up to seven home games at sites outside of Las Vegas, as noted in the draft agreement.

The A’s and Las Vegas Stadium Authority officials are negotiating the terms of the nonrelocation agreement, with the number of potential out-of-market games among the topics being discussed, Steve Hill, stadium authority chairman, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal last week.

MLB officials reviewed the A’s nonrelocation agreement and have negotiated with the stadium authority’s legal team about the provisions they want included in the document, Arnold said.

“MLB has agreed, of course, that any of the efforts they use to impose rules on the A’s, would be done in uniform, in a consistent manner, without discrimination against the A’s or against Las Vegas,” Arnold said. “They are in the process of standardizing all of their nonrelocation agreements and we are one of the first new ones to be put out there. So the negotiations, we’ve been able to get them done, but it’s a little more heavy lifting than we thought we would have to do.”

A finalized version of the nonrelocation agreement could be voted on for potential approval as early as the scheduled July 18 stadium authority meeting.

The agreement is one of three that still need to be approved by the authority, along with the lease, which was presented last year, and development agreements. The community benefits agreement was previously approved by the board, with the development agreement yet to be presented.

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on X. Send questions and comments to roadwarrior@reviewjournal.com.

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