Las Vegas Mayor, Carolyn Goodman, has cast doubt over the Oakland Athletics’ proposed move to the city, stating that the MLB franchise would be better off staying in its current home than pursuing the project for a new ballpark on the famed Strip.
Plans to deliver a $1.5bn (£1.19bn/€1.39bn) ballpark for the A’s in Las Vegas appeared to have taken a major step forward last week with the announcement that Tropicana Las Vegas will close on April 2, ahead of demolition of the iconic casino-resort.
The Tropicana is an iconic part of the Strip but is due to be pulled down to make way for the stadium that will house the proposed 33,000-seat ballpark. However, there remains multiple question marks over the project, with Goodman casting further doubt yesterday (Tuesday).
“I’ve lived in this town this year 60 years, and so I know the town like the back of my hand,” Goodman told Front Office Sports. “I personally think they’ve got to figure out a way to stay in Oakland and make their dream come true.”
This “dream” refers to the A’s long-held efforts to develop a new ballpark on the waterfront in Oakland, plans that were ultimately abandoned amid bureaucratic red tape in favour of pursuing a new home in Vegas.
In May, the A’s reached a binding agreement with Bally’s Corporation and Gaming & Leisure Properties Inc. (GLPI) to build a new ballpark on the Tropicana site. Bally’s, together with GLPI, will assign approximately nine acres of the 35-acre site on Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana Avenue to the A’s or a related stadium authority.
A’s owner, John Fisher, said last month that renderings depicting the new ballpark and resort are still being finalised. Earlier in January, it was reported that the A’s are considering several options for a temporary home as it prepares for its move to the new Vegas stadium.
In November, the A’s received the green light from MLB to relocate from Oakland to Las Vegas. The team will play the 2024 season at its current home, the Oakland Coliseum, but it remains to be seen where the A’s will spend the following seasons ahead of the planned move to Las Vegas in 2028.
Funding for the ballpark project is another question mark, with Goodman also questioning the choice of site for the stadium. The Tropicana site, while situated in a prime location near T-Mobile Arena and Allegiant Stadium, is said to be only slightly larger than that of Minneapolis’s Target Field, MLB’s smallest facility footprint. “There are a lot of questions about whether that’s going to fit,” Goodman said of the Tropicana site.
Goodman instead believes the A’s should have focused on a site she put forward, at the Cashman Center, which is within city limits. However, $380m in public funding that is targeted for ballpark construction can be used only on the Tropicana property.
“It’s in the historic, old part of town, which is where all major interstate highways come together,” Goodman said of the other site. “We have seven access points to it. It is in an opportunity zone. There are all these benefits.
“And so when they said no, I thought this doesn’t make sense. Here’s a great site. They can get a great price on it because it’s owned by the city. We went out to reach for them, and yet no, they’re going to go out and want to get closer to the Strip, with all the congestion and everything.
“And I thought, this does not make sense. And so why is it happening? And then I thought, well, because they really want to stay in Oakland. They want to be on the water. They have that magnificent dream, and yet they can’t get it done.”
Following the interview, Goodman later sought to backtrack on her comments, issuing a statement which read: “I want to be clear that I am excited about the prospect of Major League Baseball in Las Vegas, and it very well may be that the Las Vegas A’s will become a reality that we will welcome to our city.”
She added: “My points included that it is my belief that in their perfect world the ownership of the A’s would like to have a new ballpark on the water in Oakland and that the ownership and government there should listen to their great fans and try to make that dream come true.
“Should that fail, Las Vegas has shown that it is a spectacular market for major league sports franchises.”
In Oakland, where a campaign still continues to retain the A’s, Goodman’s comments were welcomed by her counterpart, Mayor Sheng Thao. She told the San Francisco Chronicle: “Keeping the A’s in Oakland is what’s best for everyone including Las Vegas.
“My door is open to (A’s owner) John Fisher and to anyone else that has the means and desire to purchase the A’s and keep them in the town. We have the plan, the sites, and the money. Let’s keep the A’s rooted in Oakland.”
In October, construction manager Mortenson-McCarthy revealed the tentative timeline for the A’s Vegas ballpark, with work potentially commencing in April 2025. It is hoped the stadium will be completed in January 2028.