Athletics are running out of time to find a home in Oakland, Las Vegas

Athletics are running out of time to find a home in Oakland, Las Vegas

The Oakland Athletics have spent years trying to get a new stadium while watching Bay Area neighbors like the Giants, Warriors, 49ers and Raiders successfully settle in state-of-the-art venues, and now time is running out. it is fitting for their efforts.

The A’s lease at RingCentral Coliseum expires after the 2024 season, and while they could be forced to extend the terms, the club and Major League Baseball have deemed the stadium unsuitable for a professional franchise.

They are looking for a new stadium in Oakland or Las Vegas, but have experienced difficulties in both areas. The A’s missed a major deadline in October to get a deal done in Oakland, and there’s little sign they’ll get the kind of funding they want from Las Vegas.

“I think the A’s have to look at it two ways,” said Brendan Bussmann, managing partner of Las Vegas-based B Global. “Obviously, they’ve struggled in Oakland to get a deal across the board. It’s not for lack of trying. … You’ve got an owner that’s willing to raise money, you’ve got a club that wants to sit there and find a way to- make it work, and you keep running into obstacles along the way.

“It’s time to fish or cut bait. Oakland, do you want them or not? And if not, where will the A’s get the best deal? is it las vegas Is it somewhere else? They’ll have to figure it out.”

What the A’s think is a bit of a mystery. Team president Dave Kaval was vocal early in the process, saying the A’s are pursuing two different tracks with Oakland and Las Vegas. But he kept quiet on the matter a few months ago. A’s spokeswoman Catherine Aker recently said the club would not comment at this time.

The A’s have been negotiating with Oakland to build a $1 billion stadium as part of a $12 billion redevelopment deal.

Newly elected Mayor Sheng Thao said reaching a deal is important as long as it makes economic sense for the city. His predecessor, Libby Schaaf, led earlier efforts to reach a deal, but after the city and the A’s missed the October deadline, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed reservations that a deal would never be made.

“The pace in Oakland hasn’t been fast, number one,” Manfred said at the time. “We’re in a stadium situation that’s really not sustainable. I mean, we have to do something to change the situation. So I’m worried about the lack of pace.”

California’s recent history justifies their concerns. SoFi Stadium in Southern California and Chase Center in San Francisco were built with private money, and Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara was 90% privately financed.

“And then I think there was some contagion where people across the country realized that these deals could be done well privately and could generate a return on investment for these investors,” said David Carter, professor of sports business at the University of Southern California. “Why are we throwing public money at it?”

That’s a question being asked in Las Vegas, too, even though the Raiders in 2016 received $750 million from the Nevada Legislature for a stadium. At the time, that was the largest amount of public money for a sports venue, but it was surpassed last March by the $850 million pledged to build a new stadium for the NFL’s Buffalo Bills.

Another deal like the one for Allegiant Stadium, where the Raiders play, seems unlikely in Nevada. T-Mobile Arena, which opened in 2017, was privately funded. An arena planned for the south of the Las Vegas Strip also would not depend on public funds.

Las Vegas, however, has shown financial creativity. Its Triple-A baseball stadium received $80 million in 2017 naming rights from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. Room taxes fund the authority, so it was public money in a backdoor way.

Clark County Commissioner Michael Naft, who serves on the convention authority’s board, has spoken with A’s representatives about their interest in Las Vegas and said he is aware of the talks. club with other Nevada officials. He said the A’s are taking a very different approach than the Raiders, who identified Las Vegas early as their chosen landing spot after years of not getting a new stadium in Oakland.

“When the Raiders decided to come to Las Vegas, they had a clear plan,” Naft said. “You had a clear body that was in charge of evaluating the value and the value, and they committed to the destination. I haven’t seen that from the Oakland A’s at any level, and it’s really not our job to go out and beg- those who come here because we’ve earned the reputation of being the greatest arena on Earth.We’ve put the money and the manpower into making it happen.

“I think I’ve made myself clear, but from conversations with others, I don’t think I’m alone in this.”

New Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo “will not raise taxes” to attract the Athletics or any other team, his spokeswoman, Elizabeth Ray, said in a statement. But he said the club could qualify for other ongoing “economic development programs,” which could mean tax breaks similar to those Tesla received in 2014.

Manfred said in December that the A’s transfer fee would be waived if he moves to Las Vegas, a savings for the club of up to $1 billion.

“We have exceeded any reasonable time frame for the situation in Oakland to be resolved,” Manfred said at the time.

Naft said Allegiant Stadium filled a hole that went beyond landing an NFL team. It allowed Las Vegas to attract major sporting events like the Super Bowl and Final Four and major concerts like Garth Brooks and Elton John that “in many cases we wouldn’t have otherwise.”

He said he doesn’t think a baseball stadium will accomplish that, and sports economist Victor Matheson agreed.

“I think there’s a real question about how many people are willing to watch baseball in Las Vegas,” said Matheson, a professor at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. “It’s not that locals don’t have a large number of entertainment options right now, and it’s also unclear how many people can travel to see baseball in Las Vegas.”

If the A’s really want to be in Las Vegas, Naft said they need to make that clear.

“I just think you can’t play destinations against each other,” Naft said. “If you want to come here and want to be welcomed with open arms, you have to commit.”

Should the A’s not reach a deal in Oakland or Las Vegas, they could consider other destinations such as Charlotte, North Carolina; Nashville; and Portland, Oregon. Whether they would have time to explore these options is another matter.

Oakland has already shown it will watch the Raiders move to Nevada and the Warriors cross the Bay Bridge to San Francisco.

Las Vegas, Matheson noted, is hardly in a desperate situation. He also warned that Las Vegas could go from being one of the largest metropolitan areas without a major professional sports team to one of the smallest with three franchises.

“So you’ve gone from unathletic to overextended in a short period of time if the A’s were to go,” Matheson said.

— Mark Anderson, Associated Press sports writer

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