This week the Oakland City Council approved a plan to build a new stadium and keep the A’s from moving out of town.
The next day A’s executives responded by making their fourth trip to Las Vegas to gauge interest in relocating the Major League Baseball team to Southern Nevada.
The plan endorsed by Oakland City Council included greater financial burdens on the team than what the A’s had proposed, including a less-favorable tax structure and a bigger investment in affordable housing.
Both the city and the team agree that the aged RingCentral Coliseum needs to be replaced, but how and who pays have left the sides at loggerheads. Under discussion is a multi-billion dollar redevelopment project that would include a $1 billion, 35,000-seat ballpark.
The neighborhood near the current stadium is "pretty rundown, not much around it," said Mick Akers, a Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter who covers the business side of sports. "So I think they're just trying to get out of there and get somewhere new."
A’s President Dave Kaval said he was disappointed in the city’s action, telling ESPN that the city should have voted on the team’s proposal rather than its own.
“We do appreciate some of the concessions that were made. I think the party had been negotiating in good faith to try to get to a mutually agreeable solution,” he said. “Obviously we didn't get there before the vote. And so we have to balance that progress with some of the stark realities of, 'How do we move this project into an implementation phase?' We can't let the process be the product."
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf was more optimistic, saying she saw progress in the negotiations, hinting the team’s expressed interest in Las Vegas might be a negotiating ploy.
"I respect that they're trying to keep the heat on," Schaaf said, "and what better place to go than Vegas for heat."
RJ reporter Akers said some Oakland City officials see the A’s dalliance with Las Vegas as a “bullying tactic.”
“A couple of the council members mentioned their displeasure with how the A's have carried out this process, multiple times mentioning the trips out here to Las Vegas,” he said.
The A’s are reportedly exploring more than two-dozen locations in Southern Nevada, including Summerlin, Henderson, and downtown Las Vegas, but there have been no announcements on where any stadium would be located or how it would be financed.
“There's a lot to be determined here,” said Nevada Independent reporter Howard Stutz, who has written about A’s situation. “Before we start, let's use the baseball parlance: I think we're at the top of the first inning yet we're still setting the lineups right now.”
Stutz told State of Nevada that a market study conducted by the team will play a part in deciding where any stadium would be located.
“Is there enough of a local fan base for it, or is it going to be a tourism fan base?” Stutz said. "That's going to determine where the location would be.”
Mick Akers, reporter, Las Vegas Review-Journal; Howard Stutz, reporter, Nevada Independent