Billionaire Phil Ruffin, 87, says a group that is trying to relocate the MLB Oakland A’s to Las Vegas wants to speak with him about his land in Southern Nevada.
Ruffin, worth an estimated $2 billion, is a major player on the Las Vegas Strip. The businessman has owned Treasure Island since acquiring it from MGM in 2009 for $775 million. He bought another MGM property — Circus Circus — in December of 2019 for $825 million.
Las Vegas, once devoid of professional sports because of the city’s widespread legal sports betting, is now becoming a major sports hub. That’s a result of the US Supreme Court in 2018 striking out the longstanding ban that prohibited sports gambling elsewhere.
With regulated sports betting expanding across the country, the pro big four — NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL — have removed their hesitation to allow a team to call Vegas home.
Las Vegas has the NHL Knights and NFL Raiders. And recently, there have been rumblings around Sin City that the MLB Oakland A’s are considering following their former sister pro team Raiders to Southern Nevada.
Team officials from the Oakland A’s, including the team’s billionaire owner John Fisher and team President Dave Kaval, recently toured Southern Nevada to explore potential locations to construct a new MLB ballpark. A new stadium, MLB reps explained, would likely cost in the neighborhood of $1 billion.
Ruffin certainly has the coveted vacant property to build such a complex. His acquisition of Circus Circus included not only the casino resort’s 3,700-room hotel, but also 37 adjacent acres of prime development land. The purchase additionally features a 10-acre RV park.
Circus Circus is located on the Strip’s northern end between The STRAT and Resorts World, the latter which recently opened at a cost $4.3 billion.
Ruffin told The Wichita Eagle this week that he’s scheduled to meet with a group of investors leading the push to bring the A’s to Las Vegas. Ruffin was speaking with the paper after acquiring vacant land in the Kansas city for a retail and entertainment development.
I think they want to talk to me about my land,” Ruffin said of the A’s group. “The good part about baseball is they have 88 home games. So, that would be a very big deal. You wouldn’t be able to find a room in Vegas if that goes through.”
As for Oakland and A’s officials continuing to try to work out a deal to keep them in California, Ruffin opined, “They’re better off in Las Vegas.”
Along with Treasure Island and Circus Circus, Ruffin owns a 50 percent stake in Trump Las Vegas, a non-gaming residential and hotel building. The Trump Organization owns the other 50 percent.
Trump Las Vegas is located between Treasure Island and Resorts World. Combined, Ruffin’s two casinos and Trump hotel have 7,866 occupancies. Bringing at least 88 MLB games to that section of the Strip would certainly help Ruffin keep those guestrooms occupied.