Thu, 08 Jun 2023

LAS VEGAS (CN) - The Oakland A's have rounded third base on their way out of Oakland and appear headed to home - a new home.

Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo announced Wednesday a tentative agreement between state and Clark County officials to forward a bill to the Legislature that would bring the Major League Baseball team to Las Vegas. A formal decision by the Legislature is expected within days.

"This agreement follows months of negotiations between the state, the county and the A's, and I believe it gives us a tremendous opportunity to continue building on the professional sports infrastructure of southern Nevada,"said Lombardo in a statement. "Las Vegas is clearly a sports town, and Major League Baseball should be a part of it."

The A's organization has been busy for months in Carson City, lobbying politicians for support to build a 30,000-seat, $1.5 billion stadium with a retractable roof on the famed Las Vegas Strip. The A's are asking for $400 million in public support, something politicians have been slow to embrace.

The tentative agreement calls for the stadium to be publicly-owned, on the current property of the venerable Tropicana Las Vegas hotel and casino, located on the south end of the Strip. The Tropicana, which opened in 1957, will be demolished and a new 1,500-room hotel and casino will be erected, according to the Tropicana's owner, Bally's Corporation.

"This tentative agreement minimizes the risk to Nevada taxpayers in the most fiscally responsible manner,"said Nevada Treasurer Zach Conine, in a statement. "I'm also pleased that this project will leverage the most private investment of any baseball stadium in the country."

As part of the proposed legislation, taxpayers would come up with less than 25% of the cost, which makes it the third-lowest public share for a MLB ballpark out of 14 new ballparks built since 2000, according to the governor's office. Around 14,000 construction jobs are expected. The plan is for the ballpark to be finished around 2027.

"This tentative agreement minimizes the risk to Nevada taxpayers in the most fiscally responsible manner,"said Conine. "I'm also pleased that this project will leverage the most private investment of any baseball stadium in the country."

What's not included in Lombardo's announcement are the numbers. Public money is apparently coming from state tax breaks and bonds and Clark County bonds and money.

The Nevada Legislature is in its final two weeks of session, and the next phase will entail having them pore over the details in a public manner.

"Over the time we have remaining during this session, we will give this proposal a thorough vetting to fully explore the opportunity and its impacts on Southern Nevada,"said Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro in a statement.

"I am excited that we have finally received the A's proposal and we are currently reviewing it,"said Assembly Speaker Steve Yeager in a statement. "As I have continuously said throughout this process, no commitment will be made until we have both evaluated the official proposal and received input from interested parties, including impacted community members. At the end of the day, any decision will be guided by what is best for Nevadans, our economy and our communities."

The A's had been clamoring for a new stadium in Oakland, but those efforts never came to fruition. The rusty Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum has outlived its usefulness, and the A's were pushing for a waterfront ballpark. At the same time, the A's were courting Las Vegas, in what A's team President Dave Kaval termed "parallel paths."

The team has fallen on dark times. A look at the standings Wednesday sees the team with the worst record in MLB at 10-40. They are 21 games out of first place in the Western Division of the American League.

Currently, the A's are on track to be one of the worst teams in MLB history. Attendance in the 2022 season was less than 10,000 per game - last in the major leagues. The Los Angeles Dodgers were first at around 47,600 a game.

And the A's payroll, at $60 million, was also last. The New York Mets topped the league with $346 million.

This wouldn't be the first time the A's franchise has moved. The A's started in Philadelphia in 1901 before moving to Kansas City in 1955. Oakland was home in 1968, and the A's won four World Series championships in the Bay Area city, including three in a row (1972-74).

Source: Courthouse News Service

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