Oakland A’s win MLB owners’ approval to move to Las Vegas

ARLINGTON, Texas — MLB owners unanimously approved the Oakland Athletics’ relocation to Las Vegas on Thursday.

The A’s needed at least 23 votes — or 75 percent of the 30 franchises — for approval of their move to Southern Nevada.

Commissioner Rob Manfred addressed the development during a Thursday news conference.

If the A’s complete other required relocation steps, it would give Las Vegas its fourth major league sports franchise. The Golden Knights were the first, beginning play as an NHL expansion team in 2017. The WNBA’s Aces relocated from San Antonio in 2018, and the Raiders moved from Oakland in 2020.

Oakland fans never gave up on efforts to defeat relocation. When some owners were arriving Tuesday for the start of the three-day meeting, a plane pulling a banner that read “A’S BELONG IN OAKLAND —#VOTENO” flew above the hotel where they are meeting adjacent to Globe Life Field.

That was part of a last-ditch effort to stop approval of the team’s move. At least half of the owners were sent special “Stay In Oakland” boxes from Bay Area fans packed with a green Athletics cap, a baseball card featuring his likeness and a note telling him all the reasons he should vote no on the team’s planned relocation.

The A’s plan to build a $1.5 billion, 33,000-seat stadium on 9 acres of the 35-acre Tropicana Las Vegas site on the Strip.

“This is a huge win for the city to realize yet another major league franchise is coming to Vegas,” Soo Kim, chairman of Bally’s Corp, which owns the Tropicana, told the Review-Journal on Thursday. “I think it’s great for baseball, because they can showcase their product to 40 million-plus visitors to Vegas, many of which are international. So that will help keep the sport growing strong. I think it’s a win for all parties, and obviously I’m enthusiastic and appreciative of all parties involved in the city and the state that came together to make this happen.”

Bally’s is locked in at providing the 9 acres and nothing more for the A’s to build their ballpark, Kim said. The two sides will share about 3 acres of space leading from the Strip to the stadium, which Bally’s will be in control of.

“They’re limited to 9 acres. We do have the responsibility that they have ingress and egress,” Kim said. “The shared space is really our space, that we’re responsible to provide access to their space. We’ll obviously do it in a way that’s congruent to the ballpark but meets our commercial requirements … It’s still 9 acres. That was the deal, and it’s not changing.”

The franchise still needs to finalize various agreements with the Las Vegas Stadium Authority, a requirement to receive up to $380 million in public funding passed in June by the Legislature as Senate Bill 1 and then signed into law by Gov. Joe Lombardo.

The A’s also would be tasked with securing more than $1 billion to finance the ballpark’s remaining construction costs. Initial plans call for the A’s to begin construction on their Las Vegas stadium in April 2025 and have it completed in January 2028.

The A’s are locked in to play at Oakland Coliseum through the 2024 season, when their lease at the aging ballpark expires. It is unclear where they would play during the 2025 through 2027 seasons. Summerlin’s Las Vegas Ballpark and the San Francisco Giants’ Oracle Park are options, as is an extension of the A’s lease at the Coliseum.

To make way for the planned stadium, the Tropicana will first have to be demolished and the site cleared before construction can begin.

The exact details of when the Tropicana will shutter and demolition will begin are still being finalized, Kim said. But officials expect the site work to begin at some point next year, with all parties involved, focused on having the stadium ready to go for the 2028 MLB season.

Bally’s Corp is also still mulling ideas for how they will go about developing the rest of the Tropicana site, where they plan to build a new hotel at some point.

“We’re still talking about the scope of it, in terms of which way we want to go,” Kim said. “It could be one phase and a larger project, a multiphase, smaller to start and larger over time. We’re not exactly sure how we’re going to do that.”

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman said the addition of the A’s adds to Las Vegas’ identity as a pro sports market.

“Las Vegas is becoming the world center for major league sports, and with that we welcome the MLB, A’s to our community,” she said. “I hope they build a winning team for Las Vegas as the Vegas Golden Knights and Aces have done.”

Despite the unanimous vote, which was viewed as the largest remaining hurdle the A’s had to clear after securing the up to $380 million in pubic funds from the state and Clark County, Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao is still holding out hope that the A’s move isn’t a done deal.

“We are disappointed by the outcome of this vote. But we do not see it as the end of the road,” Thao said in a statement. “We all know there is a long way to go before shovels are in the ground and that there are a number of unresolved issues surrounding this move.”

The last MLB team to relocate was the Montreal Expos, who became the Washington Nationals in 2005.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on X. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original News Source Link – LVRJ

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