Sports

Treasure Island Owner Phil Ruffin to Meet Group Seeking To Bring MLB to Las Vegas

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.

Phil Ruffin drives in his convertible in Las Vegas undated photo. The casino tycoon might be involved in an effort to bring Sin City a MLB baseball team. (Image: AP)

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.

Stadium Site

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.”

Northern Strip Lure

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.

Devin O'Connor

Gaming Legislation, Politics, Casino Business, Entertainment----Devin O’Connor’s passion for politics and background in the world of pop culture television give him insight into the gaming industry backstories that often drive news these days. After graduating from Penn State University with a theater arts degree, he worked at MTV Networks/Viacom from 2005 to 2010 as a writer and producer, where his credits included Total Request Live, New Year's Eve specials, and a special featuring poker superstar Daniel Negreanu. He later moved on to the HGTV/DIY Network, where he created, wrote, and produced three series specials: That's So House Hunters, That's So 80s, and That's So 90s. Devin came on board with Casino.org in 2014. He lives in Pennsylvania, and is an avid marathoner, having completed 15 races to date. Email: devin.oconnor@casino.org

View Comments

  • What would've been deal price, if he did it 3-6 months later... Maybe half?

    "He bought another MGM property — Circus Circus — in December of 2019 for $825 million"

  • An MLB park on the North end of the Strip would help that section of town, but major improvements need to be to the surrounding area. Right now, there is vacant lots (Nets Arena) that needs something; Fountainbleu needs to be finished; Circus needs major upgrades. Basically, there needs to be investments in the North Strip and surrounding area. I think that if the A's move to Vegas, and use Ruffin's land, investments will be made, and things will change for the better. North Strip needs retail, and anything between Sahara and Strat needs to have major investments to help the area thrive.

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