Las Vegas has become the leverage for every Major League Baseball and National Basketball Association team looking for a better deal from their home city.
That's because Sin City has become an incredibly successful market for the National Hockey League's Golden Knights -- an expansion team -- and the relocated Oakland Raiders, a National Football League team which has become the priciest ticket in the league in the secondary ticket market.
Most teams don't actually want to leave their home city, they just want a better deal to stay. Moving a team a long distance to an unfamiliar market means having to build a new fan base. That was not the case for the Raiders, since the team had already moved between Los Angeles and Oakland with Las Vegas being a very short flight (or a long drive) away.
With the move, the Raiders went from a team with a small, passionate local fan base that struggled to sell tickets in an outdated stadium, to a very hot ticket playing at Allegiant Stadium, a state-of-the-art modern facility. Raiders games sell out drawing a mix of traveling fans of the home team, Vegas locals who have adopted the team, traveling fans of the away team, and curious tourists happy to see an NFL game.
That same formula has worked for the Golden Knights, and now the Oakland Athletics are inching closer to calling Las Vegas home.
The A's Are Eyeing the Las Vegas Strip
Technically, the A's have been negotiating with Las Vegas and their current home in Oakland. The team seemed very close to a deal in Sin City, likely for a site on the Strip, when concerns over public funding caused the deal to grind to a halt. Now, however, public funds appear to be back on the table, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
"Some form of public assistance could be made available to help lure the Oakland Athletics to Las Vegas, according to Steve Hill, CEO and president of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority," according to the paper.
The city has used a room tax -- a 0.88% tax on hotel rooms -- to pay back the city's $750 million contribution to the $2 billion Allegiant Stadium.
Hill did not completely discard the idea of a room tax to fund an A's stadium, but he did suggest that other ideas might make more sense.
“There’s a spectrum of possibilities for that partnership and I think it’s worthwhile to explore some of them,” Hill said. “I think there’s a broad set of options that could be helpful in making this move forward. I don’t think it’s really the right use of room tax, but, I do think there’s some methods to make a contribution that probably could and do make sense.”
What Will an A's Stadium in Las Vegas Look Like?
The team has narrowed down its choice to two sites on (or adjacent to) the Las Vegas Strip. One location would be a lot where the A's build a stadium themselves or in a private/public partnership. The other location would a partnership with a major casino operator (likely Gaming and Leisure Properties (GLPI) - Get Gaming and Leisure Properties Inc. Report, not MGM Resorts International (MGM) - Get MGM Resorts International Report or Caesars Entertainment (CZR) - Get Caesars Entertainment Inc. Report, although no partner has been named), the Las Vegas Sun reported.
Peter Carlino, the CEO of Gaming & Leisure Properties, said in an earnings call that the A’s have showed “very, very strong interest” in having the stadium at their site, which is the site of the Tropicana Resort Casino. Penn National Gaming (PENN) - Get Penn National Gaming Inc. Report operates Tropicana while Gaming & Leisure Properties owns the site.
“If we can facilitate something exciting, you bet we will,” Carlino said of the 35-acre site. “So there I must say stay tuned, we’ll let you know.”
Athletics team president Dave Kaval has said the team's goal is to secure land for a possible $1 billion, 30,000-seat ballpark near the resort corridor, the Las Vegas Sun reported. It is expected that the stadium will be domed with a retractable roof.