A’s owner John Fisher and president Dave Kaval made another trip to Las Vegas on Wednesday and are getting public support from hotel owners and heavy hitters in Sin City.
According to Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Mick Akers, the A’s have zeroed in on two potential sites on The Strip – at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds on the north end and the lot where the Tropicana Hotel currently stands.
Akers exchanged emails with Resorts World Las Vegas President Scott Sibella, who was at Wednesday’s meeting and wrote, “We reinforced our support that we believe the best site is on the Sahara/LV Blvd. Having the A’s in Las Vegas will be great for the Strip properties and the LV community. … A’s will have our full support.”
Akers added that the meeting didn’t include any specific talks about financials for a potential new $1 billion, 35,000-seat domed stadium. It sounds like this was just another meet and greet – and perhaps a public pressure ploy by the A’s front office toward the City of Oakland.
Akers also shared a text message he received from Derek Stevens, co-owner of the Circa, Golden Gate and The D properties, who was present at the meeting.
“I talked with ownership in John Fisher and their President Dave for a while yesterday,” Stevens wrote Akers in a text message. “This will be very good for Las Vegas, very good for jobs, very good for hotel rooms (i.e. the LVCVA). The key thing is getting the location nailed down and moving forward.”
Twitter user @2Legit2QuitDee also reported that Kaval has registered as a lobbyist in Clark County and the State of Nevada, perhaps signaling the A’s are preparing to take the next steps to try and secure public funding in Las Vegas for a new stadium.
According to Akers, Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo met with the A’s about a potential new stadium but he’s not interested in raising taxes to fund the project. The Raiders used a hotel tax to secure $750 million of public funding for the $1.9 billion Allegiant Stadium, which was opened near The Strip in 2020.
Back in 2021, the A’s made at least five trips to Las Vegas, often conveniently scheduled a day or two after public meetings in the Bay Area about Howard Terminal. The A’s reportedly considered locations in local suburbs of Henderson and Summerlin but have since focused their efforts on The Strip. They might be trying to drum up some movement from the City of Oakland with this latest visit.
Oakland mayor Sheng Thao is yet to comment publicly on any developments with the A’s new stadium efforts in Howard Terminal since taking over office in January. The city is trying to secure more funding for off-site infrastructure for the Howard Terminal project, which remains the biggest hurdle in getting the project done.
The project calls for a new waterfront district centered around a $1 billion, 34,000-seat stadium along with commercial, residential and hotel buildings, a 3,000-seat performing arts center and a large public park. The A's have touted it as a $12 billion project, but estimates at public meetings show it will cost about $6 billion to fund the full build-out.
Oakland reportedly has secured $321 million in off-site infrastructure grants, but recently hit some hurdles in an attempt at an additional $183 million in federal grants, however there is still $140 million in grants from various government sources in play.
The A’s are trying desperately to end their odyssey of finding a new stadium, as the franchise’s efforts to leave the Oakland Coliseum date back to at least 1999. Oakland has been focused on the Howard Terminal site in West Oakland since early 2020. The A’s have financial incentive to find a resolution in the next 12 months, as they reportedly will be removed from the MLB’s lucrative revenue-sharing program if they don’t have a stadium deal in place by early Jan. 15, 2024.
Thao was actually at the Coliseum on Thursday for a press conference, as the city announced it has entered an exclusive partnership with the African-American Sports and Entertainment Group (AASEG) to develop the Coliseum site in the future. The A’s current lease runs out after the 2024 season and AASEG is making major efforts to land women’s sports franchises.
AASEG is working to put a bid together for a WNBA expansion team in Oakland and has also been involved with the effort to land an NWSL team, as Oakland is a 2024 expansion team finalist for the women's soccer league. The A’s have historically been able to renew their lease at the Coliseum without much problem, but the AASEG deal may complicate things, as there may be a viable tenant for the Coliseum if the NWSL chooses Oakland as an expansion site.
Thao made no mention of the A’s during her brief press conference appearance Thursday. Last July, when she was a councilmember, Thao told Oaklandside’s David DeBolt that the city might benefit from being more private with its declarations. Former mayor Libby Schaaf was outspoken in her support of Howard Terminal when in office.
“I think that I and my colleagues need to be very cognizant of how we move forward, how we represent our city, and how we get the best negotiated deal for our residents,” Thao told DeBolt. “That means that we should not be going out into the world and saying, ‘I am a champion of moving forward Howard Terminal.’ Because that actually does a disservice to how we negotiate at the table to get the best deal for our residents.”
It’s 2023 and the A’s stadium situation remains a complicated spider web of bureaucracy and holding patterns. Kaval has remained silent over the past several months, but the latest visit fits in with the team’s “parallel path” narrative, though they are much farther down the road in Oakland and have done a lot of the red-tape work. They don’t even have a final site picked out in Vegas, but the A’s are keeping that public flirtation alive.