Oakland A’s announce plans to push forward with Las Vegas stadium:Oakland’s last remaining pro sports team is planning to leave

Oakland A’s announce Vegas stadium plans
from Sean Keane, with YardBarker.com/www.yardbarker.com

The Warriors moved to San Francisco. The Raiders moved to Las Vegas. Now Oakland’s last remaining pro sports team is planning to leave.

The Oakland Athletics announced they entered into a binding agreement to purchase land near the Las Vegas Strip, with plans to build a $1.5 billion ballpark there. The site is just across Highway 15 from the MGM Grand Casino and north of Allegiant Stadium, where the Raiders play.

The city of Oakland had been negotiating with the A’s on a $12 billion redevelopment project centered around a $1 billion ballpark, and had secured over $300 million in infrastructure grants. The project survived a legal challenge last month, but the team was still negotiating over details of their planned development, which included hotels, housing, retail space and a performance center.

New mayor Sheng Thao said the city is done negotiating with the A’s.

The project has the support of MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and Nevada governor Joe Lombardo. Manfred said in a statement, “We support the A’s turning their focus on Las Vegas and look forward to them bringing finality to this process by the end of the year.”

To pay for the stadium, the A’s are going a tried-and-true route: Hiring lobbyists. The team may have baseball’s lowest payroll at $58 million, but they’re proving they will spend money on getting governments to give them money. If only Jason Giambi had been a lobbyist!

The Athletics have been focused on getting a new ballpark since before Gap heir John Fisher and Lew Wollf, former fraternity brother of then-commissioner Bud Selig, bought the team in 2005. But they’ve declined to invest in team payroll or the Oakland Coliseum, which in recent years has had problems with sewage backing up into the locker rooms, banks of lights going out during games, 30-40 feral cats and a possum living in the broadcast booth.

When the Raiders built their stadium in Las Vegas, Clark County kicked in $750 million, paid for by a bond issue and a 0.88 percent tax increase on hotel rooms. That translates to a 30-year debt obligation of $1.35 billion for Southern Nevada taxpayers. But the theory is that stadiums will bring in visitors, whose hotel rates pay for the debt service.

It remains to be seen how the A’s will pay for their new retractable-roof stadium, or where they’ll play until the new stadium is ready, which won’t be until 2027 at the earliest. But the A’s are clearly leaving their home of more than half a century, and the cheapest owners in baseball are going to be rewarded with a brand-new stadium.