A view of the front doors of the Tropicana Casino Hotel Resort in Las Vegas which could wind up being the home to either the Oakland A’s or a new MLS franchise (photo by troplv.com)
Las Vegas the New Gold Rush for Sports
That’s Amaury News and Commentary
By Amaury Pi-González
Major League Soccer Commissioner, Don Garber is looking to Las Vegas for expansion: “Las Vegas is a frontrunner for MLS 30th team” said Mr. Garber, who added, “We are looking to build a stadium right off the strip”.
Sin City has gained national attention in recent years with the birth of the NHL Las Vegas Golden Knights and the Oakland Raiders, now Las Vegas Raiders, both playing in the most famous desert in the country.
Now they are also in the mix for MLS 30th team according to Garber who added “our 30th team is really going to round out expansion in Major League Soccer, so stay tuned, because in the first quarter of 2022 we should be announcing a 30th team”.
It makes sense for the MLS build a new stadium for their expansion team in Las Vegas, since that is an outdoor sport with the regular seasons beginning in late February and ending early October, they play lots of games in the summer and in Las Vegas you need an indoor-air conditioned stadium.
Obviously, Oakland A’s aficionados are still in a unique situation where the team is moving forward with two parallel plans one for the Howard Terminal new ballpark at Jack London Square in Oakland, and one someplace in Las Vegas.
That is sort of good news for each plan. In Oakland the EIR (Environmental Impact Report) a 3,500 page document which the city of Oakland planning commission could vote next month and approve. This is just one step in a very long process as the A’s and the city of Oakland are still in on-going negotiations about how to pay for the project and the infrastructure around it.
Meanwhile in Las Vegas, the A’s are also involved in looking for land to build a new stadium. After earlier in 2021 MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred gave the team permission to look for alternate sites in other cities, in case they cannot build the Howard Terminal new park.
The Tropicana Hotel site on Las Vegas famous strip a primary target, also Dave Kaval President of the A’s and John Fisher owner have made repeated visits to the desert and are evaluating other options like a plot owned by Wyndham Hotel and Resorts Las Vegas and another by betting on casino company Caesars Entertainment.
It has been reported also (although not confirmed) that the Hughes Corporation (originally owned by Howard Hughes) has offered “free” land to the Oakland team if they wish to build their new park in Summerlin, an affluent suburb, minutes from the strip. Las Vegas media also has reported the A’s have looked at Henderson, Nevada, just a few minutes from the Strip for their new park
A’s fans by now have heard just about everything they need to know, stuff they like, and stuff they do not, like the team announcing last year a substantial increase in their season tickets, which was not very well received.
The one positive is the Howard Terminal plans are moving along, although (we must keep in mind) still a non-binding agreement. Many scenarios are floating around here in the Bay Area among fans and media.
One is that the A’s will play in 2022 at the Oakland Coliseum but sometime during the season they will announce their plans for the Howard Terminal although it’s still in development however, they do not believe that is going to materialize and announce that they will be moving out of Oakland. By 2023 they will be playing at their AAA facility Las Vegas Aviators Park, while they build their new permanent home in Sin City.
Your guess is as good as anybody. But two things that you can bet on, in the near future Las Vegas will have an MLS team and the other one: sometime this year we will finally know where the A’s are going to play. The Commissioner has made it abundantly clear that his patience with Oakland is about to expire. The ‘fish or cut bait’ scenario is coming soon.
During the 2021 season the Oakland A’s played 80 games at the Oakland Coliseum and averaged 8,767 fans per game, that ranked #29 among the 30 teams in baseball, the Miami Marlins finished last averaging 7,933.
We have to consider that most teams attendance have gone down during the past two seasons because all the Covid-19 restrictions. And this upcoming 2022, which has been in a lockout by owners since last December 2, could figure to be a wild card.
Is another variant on the way after Omicron? How will States handle all this, we are a big and complex country we have 50 States and they all have different laws and regulations.
Like we say on radio as well as television “stay tune for more news to come”
Amaury Pi Gonzalez does News and Commentary weekly at http://www.sportsradioservice.com