LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — As Major League Baseball owners voted to approve the Athletics move to Las Vegas Thursday, the franchise looks to move on from Oakland, and forward to a 2025 groundbreaking for the planned Las Vegas Strip stadium.
Dave Kaval, president of the Athletics, said that the unanimous vote was a historic moment, not just for the franchise but for Major League Baseball as a whole.
“For Major League Baseball to have its team in Las Vegas, really the sports capital of the United States these days, and it’s an exciting day for everyone,” Kaval said.
Kaval cited the success of the entertainment capital of the world’s other sports ventures, the Las Vegas Raiders, Vegas Golden Knights, and the forthcoming Las Vegas Grand Prix, as one of the leading reasons southern Nevada was such an appealing place for the Athletics franchise.
“The incredible showcase last night, the [Las Vegas GP] opening ceremonies, having a Major League Baseball team there will further promote our sport, our industry, create excitement and new fans,” he said.
One criticism levied at the Athletics franchise by baseball fans is that of a lack of investment in the team by ownership. Kaval, for his part, said the organization will be investing in the product upon the franchise’s move to Vegas.
“This is the reason that we want to build a new ballpark is to be able to reinvest in the team, and spend more on players and sign free agents,” Kaval said. “Those are the kinds of things we’re going to be able to do with a brand new $1.5 billion stadium at the Tropicana site, really elevate and strengthen the franchise.”
With the imminent departure of the Athletics from Oakland, a location that the franchise called home since 1968, Kaval makes it clear that the move is bittersweet.
“There’s mixed emotions,” he said. “We worked so hard to try to bring a new ballpark to Oakland — it really was a 20-year process — but at the end of the day, there really wasn’t a path there.”
Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao called the move “a huge disappointment” Thursday, according to 8newsnow.com news partner KRON, adding that “there is a long way before shovels hit the ground in Las Vegas and there are a number of unresolved issues surrounding this move.”
Kaval, however, is looking to move forward, saying that the “past is prologue.” He said that the Athletics franchise can learn a lot from the Raiders, former market companions that once again find themselves occupying the same city.
Where the Athletics will be playing as the Las Vegas Strip stadium becomes a reality is still in flux. He said the responsible parties are all aiming for an April 2025 groundbreaking and a 2028 opening at the then-former site of the Tropicana Las Vegas Casino Resort. The final form of the Athletics stadium, however, has yet to be unveiled.
“We’ve tried to be really thoughtful about the design, and ensuring that the design can have presence and really fit in the Las Vegas skyline,” Kaval said, adding that the new renderings of the Athletics stadium are expected soon.
“We want to ensure that our building can be timeless in one of the really — most incredible skylines in the world.”