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A’s seek public partners to assist with potential Vegas move

The Oakland Athletics were in Las Vegas last week to talk about relocating to Southern Nevada if financing for a major league ballpark can be be secured.

The A’s have been trying to get a facility built in Oakland for years, with a city council vote on a proposed waterfront project that would include a baseball stadium expected in July.

With its lease at RingCentral Coliseum set to expire in 2024, the team has been given permission to explore opportunities elsewhere by Major League Baseball.

At the end of what was described as an introductory meet-and-greet with key political and business leaders, A’s president Dave Kaval sat down for an exclusive interview with the Review-Journal during which many topics regarding Las Vegas becoming the potential new home for the A’s were discussed.

He addressed many topics, many of which were addressed in earlier stories. Here are other interesting parts of the conversation.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

R-J: It has been reported the A’s will visit Portland to discuss a relocation possibility there. Are the A’s planning a trip there, or to any other cities?

Kaval: I want to be very clear about this. There are no other trips planned. The only location we’re actively making trips to is Las Vegas.

R-J: What about Las Vegas Ballpark: Is there any way you could bring it up to major league specification?

Kaval: It might be something you could look into. But offhand, it doesn’t seem like something that would be the easiest thing to do. You have to have the infrastructure around it — parking, transit to get there. It’s scaled for (crowds of) 10,000, not 30,000.

R-J: Could the A’s at least play games there until a new ballpark is built?

Kaval: There are cases where teams have done something like that. Obviously, it’s smaller. I don’t think we have a specific answer to that yet. But it’s something that could be (an option) depending on the timeline of things. I wouldn’t rule it out. Las Vegas Ballpark is an incredible facility; it’s really the class of minor league ballparks. With the mixed use, the bars and restaurants around it, it’s a pretty cool setup.

R-J: What about the old ballpark at Cashman Field downtown? Is that a viable site for a baseball stadum.

Kaval: I would say this: We played six games there in 1996 (when the Coliseum was being renovated). We went 2-4. So I guess what I’m saying is that we do have history there in some kind of way. No, we’re going to learn more about that site and what is possible. I think it’s important to keep that flexibility. One thing I will say (about Las Vegas) is there are a lot of sites. When we looked at Oakland, there’s not many left where you can even build.

R-J: If the A’s build a new ballpark here, what would make it special?

Kaval: My previous experience was with PayPal Park (as president of Major League Soccer’s San Jose Earthquakes). We built the largest bar in North America — almost 345 feet of linear space. It’s the place to be seen in San Jose. I also have the Guinness record for world’s largest groundbreaking. We had 7,000 people with blue shovels — normally when you have a groundbreaking it’s with gold shovels for ritzy people. Everybody got to take their shovel home, and now when they’re gardening every year, they’re thinking of the Earthquakes. Those type of things are fun, exciting, and they bring new fans in.

R-J: What about the size of the ballpark?

Kaval: I travel a lot and wrote a book about (ballparks) — “The Summer that Saved Baseball.” Traveled to all 30 in 38 days. I’ve always been a ballpark aficionado from a fan perspective. I found that smaller, more intimate stadiums are really the trend. And not having all fixed seats, but having a communal area — like the Treehouse at Oakland Coliseum (an open area above the left-field bleachers featuring open-air bars and viewing areas). Maybe there would be a thing in a new ballpark where you have three experiences at one game. For three innings you sit in a suite. For three innings you sit in the front or second row. And then for three innings you have a communal experience, like the Treehouse. Think of the ballpark like a Disney amusement park. You go on Matterhorn, you go on Space Mountain and then you go to Fantasyland and ride the twirlers or whatever.

R-J: Would there also be expensive seat licenses, like at Allegiant Stadium?

Kaval: Obviously, that’s a mechanism that is used. I think it’s something that we would look at very seriously.

R-J: There’s been talk about a public-private partnership being part of the funding for this project. Is that part of the plan?

Kaval: I wouldn’t rule anything out at this stage, (but) I think what we’re more focused on is understanding who would be willing to partner on the public side — there’s all these different folks who could come together to make something like this happen. The Raiders did it one way, and it included a trip to Carson City and something at the state level. We have no idea if that’s what our path would be or not.

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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