The Las Vegas A’s are more of a reality than ever before. On Thursday morning, all 30 Major League Baseball (MLB) owners voted in favor of the Oakland A’s Las Vegas relocation plan.
There are still a few more steps before the A’s can call Las Vegas its home. The next potential hurdle could be a possible lawsuit by the Nevada teachers’ union to stop the public funding for a new ballpark.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred should discuss the approval in a news conference later today.
Plenty to do before Oakland A’s can play in Las Vegas
This saga isn’t close to coming to an end. If the Nevada teachers’ union wins its lawsuit, A’s owner John Fisher will have to find another way to procure the $380 million in public funding to build the Las Vegas stadium.
The most recent A’s timeline shows that construction on a Las Vegas baseball stadium won’t begin until 2025. The Las Vegas A’s first pitch should take place in 2028.
Before construction on a new stadium can begin, the A’s and Bally’s have to come up with a plan for the land. The A’s stadium will occupy 9.5 acres of the 35 acres of land where the iconic Tropicana stands.
The initial renderings of the stadium weren’t accurate and the A’s have new plans. During a Q3 earnings call, MGM Resorts CEO Bill Hornbuckle said the new design is “spectacular.”
The team will likely reveal the new stadium plans soon. Bally’s will receive a one-year notice before the A’s can begin construction on the stadium. The Las Vegas casino operator will have to come up with its own plan on what to do with the Tropicana.
Currently, the rumor is that Bally’s will implode the Tropicana and build a new casino and hotel. Meanwhile, the A’s will have to find a place to play after its lease expires with Oakland after the 2024 MLB season.
Covering the A’s road to Las Vegas since 2018
This approval has been a long time coming. While the A’s have been discussing potentially moving or building a new stadium in California for around 20 years, Las Vegas has been buzzing about a potential move since 2018.
The Rio hasn’t been imploded and replaced with an MLB stadium for the A’s. In fact, Rio has a new owner with big plans for the future of the off-strip casino.
Rumors about the A’s moving to Las Vegas heated up again in 2022 while the A’s were negotiating with Oakland to build a massive $12 billion Waterfront Ballpark District. The A’s were vetting potential sites for a stadium in Las Vegas while they were negotiating with Oakland.
Negotiations to build a stadium in Las Vegas shifted into high gear in April when the A’s signed a binding deal to buy land just west of the Vegas Strip for a stadium from Station Casinos. The excitement over this deal lasted about a month.
In May, the A’s reached a deal with Bally’s Corp. and Gaming And Leisure Properties (GLPI) to build a stadium on land currently occupied by the iconic Tropicana Las Vegas. This agreement would move the stadium location to the Vegas Strip.
A month later, Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo signed a bill for the state to offer $380 million in public financial assistance towards building a baseball stadium for the A’s should the team receive MLB’s approval to move to Las Vegas.
The current estimate for the 30,000-seat stadium for the A’s in Las Vegas is $1.5 billion.
Still some doubt about Las Vegas by MLB executives
The A’s only needed 23 of the 30 owners to vote in favor of the move for the team to go ahead with relocating to Las Vegas. The landslide vote was somewhat surprising.
While the approval was unanimous it appears as though some owners still question the viability of Las Vegas to be home to an MLB team. Before the vote, USA Today reported that an MLB executive just wants to be done with this relocation saga with the A’s:
“I have no idea. I’ve got my doubts. But enough is enough. We’ve been dealing with this for nearly 20 years, and nothing has changed. It’s time to try something new.”
Las Vegas will be the smallest TV market in MLB. Even though there’s concern about the viability of the Las Vegas market, it appears as though the MLB owners just want to move forward.
MLB owners will look towards expansion once the A’s move is finalized. There’s money to be made here and the A’s saga is holding up how quickly owners can cash in on the MLB’s expansion.
Portland, Salt Lake City, Nashville, and Montreal have all shown interest in becoming the home of a new MLB franchise. MLB will likely chose two of these cities to become home to a new MLB team.
Each new team could bring a $2 billion expansion fee for the league to share.