Rio, Trop Back in Play as Stadium Plan Bs for A’s — Report
Posted on: May 9, 2023, 01:11h.
Last updated on: May 9, 2023, 01:26h.
Three weeks after entering into a binding agreement to purchase 49 acres of Las Vegas Strip-adjacent land to build itself a new ballpark, the Oakland Athletics are reportedly having second thoughts. According to a scoop by the Nevada Independent, the MLB team has reactivated negotiations with the owners of two other Las Vegas stadium sites it previously rejected.
According to The Independent, the A’s are back in touch with the owners of the Rio Hotel & Casino, which had previously offered the team 22 of the resort’s 90 acres for only one dollar. The A’s reportedly passed on that deal due to concerns about traffic access. The Rio sits on more than 88 acres of land, 22 of which it considers excess. A baseball stadium would require just 10-12 acres.
Also apparently back on the stadium-site table are the 34 acres that currently house the Tropicana Las Vegas. The land is owned by a real estate investment trust called Gaming and Leisure Properties and leased by Bally’s Corp. This complicates the deal since both entities would need to come to agreements before a sale could be made.
Another potential negative would be the required implosion of one of the Strip’s oldest remaining resorts. The Tropicana opened in 1955, though most of its current property dates back to expansions in the ’70s and ’80s.
It Ain’t Over ’til It’s Over
If this should turn out merely to be a negotiating tactic to extract the best deal possible from Red Rock Resorts, with whom the A’s entered the binding agreement for its former Wild Wild West site, then that should surprise no one. According to Oakland’s mayor, Sheng Thao, the ballclub only pretended to negotiate with its hometown city for the same purpose.
One site no longer under consideration is the 37-acre Las Vegas Festival Grounds on the northern end of the Las Vegas Strip. According to the Independent, casino magnate Phil Ruffin, owner of that land and the adjacent Circus Circus, emailed the website, stating that he broke off negotiations “because there were too many issues I couldn’t agree to.”
Currently, this site is enjoying a boon in annual music festivals, such as last weekend’s Lovers & Friends, that no doubt undermines the team’s negotiating position.
Clock is Ticking
With the Nevada Legislature’s session ending June 5, the clock is ticking on the passage of a tax bill that would give the A’s the $500 million they seek to build a $1.5 billion, 35,000-seat stadium with a retractable roof and entertainment complex. The bill would funnel money created by a special tax district around the stadium into a fund that would pay back public bonds issued by Clark County.
According to Nevada Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, the delay on a vote is the A’s own doing.
“We haven’t gotten anything concrete yet of exactly what it is that they’re looking for, or what they would like us to take a look at,” Cannizzaro told the Independent. “So it’s tough to have conversations about what exactly we may or may not do, and time here is finite.”
If the session closes without a vote, an emergency session could be called, though the Independent reports that no requests have been submitted as of yet.
The A’s current lease in Oakland expires in 2024, meaning it would be 2025 before the team could play in another city. A temporary venue would likely be needed in Las Vegas before opening a new ballpark.
Las Vegas would be the fourth home for a franchise that started as the Philadelphia Athletics in 1901, lasting there until 1955 before moving to Kansas City, where they stayed before relocating to Oakland in 1968.
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