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Las Vegas Strip May Lose a Major Sports Franchise

Sin City usually gets what it wants. That may not happen this time.

In Las Vegas, the house rarely loses.

Sin City usually gets what it wants because it's an amazingly attractive destination for pretty much any business. That has been especially true in the sports world where the National Hockey League (NHL) literally added a new team in order to become the first major league professional sports team to set up shop on the Las Vegas Strip.

That happened when the United States Supreme Court allowed U.S. states to make their own decisions on sports gambling. Doing that took away some of the stigma of a team playing in Las Vegas since it would no longer be the only place in the country where athletes might be tempted by legal betting.

The Golden Knights, which play at T-Mobile Arena surrounded by MGM Resorts International (MGM) and Caesars Entertainment (CZR) properties on the heart of the Strip, proved quickly that big-time sports works in Sin City. Every Golden Knights game has become an event and the steady influx of tourists makes filling the arena easy.

That led to the the seemingly inevitable move of the Oakland Raiders National Football League (NFL) to a stadium just off the Strip. NFL games have proven to be massive events in the city, cementing the idea that every major league needs to be in Las Vegas.

Major League Baseball certainly took notice of this success and it has cleared the way for the Oakland Athletics to move to the Las Vegas Strip. After Oakland let the A's leave by not supporting a new stadium for the team that move seemed like a foregone conclusion, but this time Oakland has decided to put up a fight.

Oakland Decided to Take on Las Vegas

While it has been looking at sites on or near the Las Vegas Strip, Oakland has also been working on a potential new stadium in its current home city. Those efforts have always seemed half-hearted -- basically an effort to placate the team's fanbase so it looks like it at least tried to not leave.

That's what happened with the Raiders and Oakland never put up much of a fight. The city never advanced a viable plan for a new stadium and that gave the team the cover it needed to leave for Las Vegas.

When it comes to the Athletics, however, Oakland has decided to make leaving much harder on the team.

The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission voted June 30 "to approve removing the port priority use designation for Howard Terminal, opening up the site for the Oakland Athletics’ potential $12 billion mixed-use ballpark project," the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

A no vote would have essentially ended the A's tenure in Oakland and sort of made it okay to leave. The approval makes things much more complicated.

Could Oakland Keep the A's?

The A's likely want to move to Las Vegas given the financial benefits of moving. If it had no viable options in Oakland that would have been easy, but the vote in Oakland has made its plan for a privately funded $12 billion mixed-use development, which would include a waterfront ballpark, possible.

That means that if the team leaves Oakland now, it's essentially turning its back on its fans in that city. It's very possible that still happens (Las Vegas has a lot of money and is a much better market than Oakland) but it's no longer a free and easy move (even with Major League Baseball having already waived any relocation fees).

This vote does not mean that the A's will stay in Oakland but it does make it harder for the team to leave. The team still needs to make a development deal with Oakland and not being able to do so could give it the cover it needs to leave without looking like it abandoned its fans.

It's also possible that the riches Las Vegas offers makes ownership preferable to any betrayal of its fans. Las Vegas may still get its team, but Oakland has at least shown that it won't let the A's go as easy as it let the Raiders leave.