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Design & Development

Oakland A’s appoint BIG, HNTB as Vegas ballpark plans revealed

Images: Oakland Athletics

The Oakland Athletics have taken a major step forward in their Las Vegas relocation plans by appointing Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and HNTB, and unveiling the official design concept for a new ballpark on the iconic Strip.

While the Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise has previously revealed conceptual renderings of how a new stadium in Vegas could look, yesterday’s (Tuesday’s) announcement solidifies the plans. BIG will serve as the design lead and HNTB as the sports/hospitality designer and architect of record for what will be a 33,000-capacity facility with a price tag of $1.5bn (£1.18bn/€1.38bn).

“The collaboration between BIG’s creativity and HNTB’s technical expertise allows for a truly innovative and bold design while ensuring an unmatched fan experience,” Athletics managing partner and owner, John Fisher, said in a statement.

“We hope to add to the dynamic atmosphere and liveliness of the Las Vegas Strip, creating a welcoming environment for all of Southern Nevada.”

Shaped by its location on the Las Vegas Strip, the 33,000-person capacity ballpark aims to provide an outdoor feel with views of the city’s skyline. The tiered design will split upper and lower seating bowls to bring fans closer to the action than traditional ballparks and provide clear sight lines from every seat.

Notably, the A’s have opted not to pursue a retractable roof for the venue. Instead, the fixed roof’s five overlapping layers, whose design is inspired by traditional baseball pennants and also resembles Sydney Opera House, open to the north to allow for natural light and views up the Strip, while also limiting direct sunlight and heat from the south.

Fisher told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the A’s decided against a retractable roof because of the Las Vegas summer heat. “To be able to design a stadium that felt like you’re outside but focusing on fan comfort led us to the design that we have,” he said.

“One of the things that we concluded after looking at a number of other stadiums in warm-weather areas is that the roofs are not opened as much as you think they might be. So we decided that what was most important here was to design a great building that felt like you were outside but that was above all comfortable every day of the year.”

Concerning the design’s resemblance to a certain Australian landmark, Fisher added: “I think he (Ingels) would say that the vision is their own. But every great designer takes into their vision other great things they see elsewhere in the world. But I hope long term other people will look at our building and say … that reminds us a lot of the A’s ballpark in Vegas.”

The new stadium’s outfield will feature the world’s largest cable-net glass window, facing the corner of Tropicana and Las Vegas Boulevards. The ballpark is currently designed to include an 18,000-square-foot jumbotron, which would make it the largest screen in MLB, eclipsing Citi Field.

“Our design for the new Vegas home for the A’s is conceived in response to the unique culture and climate of the city,’” Bjarke Ingels, founder and creative director of BIG, said in a statement.

“Five pennant arches enclose the ballpark – shading from the Nevada sun while opening to the soft daylight from the north. A giant window frames a majestic view of the life of the Strip and the iconic New York New York hotel skyline. All direct sunlight is blocked, while all the soft daylight is allowed to wash the field in natural light.

“The resultant architecture is like a spherical armadillo – shaped by the local climate – while opening and inviting the life of the Strip to enter and explore. In the city of spectacle, the A’s ‘armadillo’ is designed for passive shading and natural light – the architectural response to the Nevada climate generating a new kind of vernacular icon in Vegas.”

The ballpark will occupy nine acres of the 35-acre Tropicana site. In January, it was announced that Tropicana Las Vegas will close on April 2, ahead of demolition of the iconic casino-resort to make way for the stadium.

Bally’s Corporation, the gaming, betting, and entertainment company which owns the Tropicana,

said the demolition process is expected to take between nine months and a year. In May, the A’s reached a binding agreement with Bally’s and Gaming & Leisure Properties Inc. (GLPI) to build a new ballpark on the Tropicana site.

Bally’s acquired the building and operations of Tropicana Las Vegas from GLPI in September 2022 as part of a $148m deal. As part of the agreement, Bally’s entered into a 50-year ground lease with GLPI, with the ability to extend to 99 years upon achieving key investment milestones.

Bally’s and GLPI are working on a master plan for a related resort development. The specifics of that process, including towers, locations, and phases will be determined in the coming months.

The ballpark plan supports up to 2,500 on-site parking spots, as well as a two- to three-acre plaza that starts in the northwest corner of the site and extends to the ballpark’s main concourse.

BIG will lead the master planning of the ballpark design, with HNTB collaborating on the design and serving as the architect of record. BIG previously presented a design for the team’s proposed new Oakland ballpark, a project that ultimately failed to come to fruition, while HNTB was the architect for Allegiant Stadium, home of NFL franchise the Las Vegas Raiders.

The A’s said they will continue to collaborate with local partners and navigate approval processes, making refinements to the ballpark design over the next year.

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.

In October, construction manager Mortenson-McCarthy revealed the tentative timeline for the A’s ballpark, with work potentially commencing in April 2025. It is hoped the stadium will be completed in January 2028.