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MLB’s Oakland A’s given final approval to move to Las Vegas

| By Richard Mulligan
The Athletics Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise can accelerate plans to build their new stadium on the site of Las Vegas’ Tropicana resort after their switch from Oakland was approved by team owners.
Oakland As Las Vegas

The 20 MLB franchises unanimously backed the move, confirming that the Oakland A’s will swap California for Las Vegas, Nevada.

MLB said the A’s will remain in Oakland during 2024 and only begin life in Las Vegas when their new $1.5bn ballpark is completed in 2028. The 30,000-seat stadium is due to be built where the Tropicana currently stands on the Las Vegas Strip.

A deal between the A’s and the owners and operators of the Tropicana, Bally’s Corporation and Gaming & Leisure Properties (GLPI), was announced earlier this year.

Through that agreement, the venue will be built on nine acres of the Tropicana’s 35-acre estate. GLPI also agreed to fund up to $175m towards certain shared improvements within the future development in exchange for a commensurate rent increase.

Oakland A’s Las Vegas ballpark to feature a retractable roof

Under plans revealed by the A’s, the ballpark will feature a retractable roof and a playing surface that will allow the outfield to open to the corner of the Tropicana and Las Vegas Boulevard, providing views of the Strip. It is expected to welcome more than 2.5 million fans and visitors annually.

It has been reported that the Tropicana, one of the oldest hotels on the Las Vegas Strip, will be demolished. The Nevada Independent reported that Bally’s intends to build a new 1,500-room hotel-casino across from the stadium once completed. The hotel-casino would be separate from the ballpark.

Bally’s acquired the building and operations of the Tropicana Las Vegas from GLPI in September 2022 as part of a $148m transaction. As part of the transaction, 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 intends to continue the operations of the Tropicana Las Vegas for the foreseeable future while evaluating all available options for a broader redevelopment of the remainder of the site that will be adjacent to the new ballpark.

Oakland A’s must assess ballpark options ahead of 2028

MLB said it is working with the franchise to evaluate “multiple options” as to where they will play until 2028.

Rumours abound that the team could stay in Oakland until 2028 or temporarily play at San Francisco Giants’ Oracle Park. Another option is the 8,000-capacity Las Vegas Ballpark, home of the minor league Aviators.

The A’s have played in Oakland since 1968, but their lease at the Oakland Coliseum expires next year. The switch to Vegas was caused by a failure between the team and local authority to agree on plans for a new stadium.

The A’s will become Las Vegas’ third major league team, alongside the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights and NFL’s Raiders. The NFL team left Oakland for the Nevada entertainment capital just three years ago.

Oakland A’s delighted to receive MLB backing

John Fisher, the Athletics’ owner, was delighted to receive the backing of the team’s peers.

Fisher said: “Today marks a significant moment for our franchise and it’s met with mixed emotions. Sadness for this change and excitement for our future. I know this is a hard day for our fans in Oakland.

“We are excited to begin this next chapter in Las Vegas. I want to thank the Las Vegas and Nevada community for welcoming us. We will work hard to bring home more championships for our fans and for our new home in Vegas.”

Ballpark project to net $380m from Nevada public

In June, Nevada’s governor, Joe Lombardo, signed off on a bill that will provide up to $380m in public funding for the stadium. The cash will mainly be derived from $180m in transferable tax credits and $120m in county bonds.

Backers of the scheme have pledged the creation of a special tax district around the proposed stadium. This would generate enough revenue to pay back the bonds and interest, with the plan not intended to directly raise taxes.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said the league backed recommendations from a relocation committee set up to evaluate the move. The committee concluded that staying in Oakland was untenable, with Las Vegas a better option for the team and competition.

Manfred said: “We look forward to being in Las Vegas. There is tremendous support, locally. In the long haul, Las Vegas will be a great asset for Major League Baseball.”

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