weather icon Clear

Column: Las Vegas a leverage play for Major League Baseball

It seems another major professional sports team might have its eyes on relocating to Las Vegas, which means we are once again a large serving of mint chocolate chip.

We’re the flavor of the month.

It’s not to suggest the Oakland A’s couldn’t eventually land in Southern Nevada — hasn’t Henderson Mayor Debra March already written the check on behalf of her constituents? — but consider the narrative a massive leverage play for now.

That could change in six months. Maybe sooner. Maybe later. Maybe not at all.

The most interesting nugget to what became a national story Tuesday was that Major League Baseball granted the Athletics permission to explore other cities as possible homes.

Oakland stands firm

Translation: Rob Manfred and those within the commissioner’s office finally agreed with what everyone this side of Nepal already knew. That the city of Oakland considers using public money for state-of-the-art sports venues akin to a rush hour pileup on I-980.

Which just might make Bay Area officials the smartest bunch of all.

(I suppose this is a good time for our annual service announcement about the fact cities that help fund such projects rarely get enough return on investment. It’s one of the great scams of the last 25 years.)

I digress.

Push has apparently come to a mighty shove between and the A’s and Oakland, meaning serious progress on a proposed waterfront ballpark will either take place soon or the chance at relocation becomes more and more plausible.

The Oakland City Council has balked at approving an $855 million payment for new infrastructure around the Howard Terminal site. So it is true about lumber costs.

Las Vegas, then, has been reported as a leading candidate to welcome the franchise Brad Pitt did such a marvelous job running on the big screen.

Makes sense. The immense popularity of the Golden Knights and the fact Las Vegas bestowed the largest public subsidy ever earmarked for an NFL stadium in greeting the Raiders makes us the high school quarterback casually strolling into the Friday night party. All eyes on us.

But for now, Las Vegas is just one of several cities being leveraged as a way for Oakland to possibly rethink its stance.

March led Henderson down a possible relocation road before, the city in 2018 flirting with bringing the Arizona Diamondbacks here by proposing a $1 billion retractable roof stadium.

I’m not sure Athletics players still have to pay for their own soda in the clubhouse — a memorable scene from “Moneyball,” — but know that March might encourage purchasing the entire Coca-Cola company if it meant Henderson landing the A’s.

Which brings us to the greatest storyline of all. When you get past those small details about how such a ballpark would be financed and if baseball could be properly supported at the gate over 81 home games, we just might offer a classic made-for-TV drama.

Shock of shockers, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman jumped into the fold Wednesday, stating the city has been in talks with Major League Baseball about the A’s for two years.

I suppose that all occurred in and around reports of Major League Soccer arriving to a new stadium on the Cashman Field site going radio silent, along with any updates regarding the hedge fund billionaire supposedly behind the project.

(Where, oh where, have you gone Seth Klarman?)

Mayoral debate

So while the A’s and Oakland try to determine if a deal can be struck, how about we hold a mayoral debate between March and Goodman as to whose municipality would best fit the Athletics.

Let’s get nuts. Let’s go crazy.

One proviso: Anderson Cooper must moderate.

Because if that happens, Las Vegas might never recover.

Then nobody would need to find an extra billion dollars.

Ed Graney is a Sigma Delta Chi Award winner for sports column writing and can be reached at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.