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A’s reach formal Vegas baseball stadium agreement with Bally’s, GLPI

Howard Stutz
Howard Stutz
EconomyGamingLegislature
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Tropicana Las Vegas operator Bally’s Corp., and real estate investment trust Gaming & Leisure Properties (GLPI) formally announced an agreement Monday with the Oakland A’s to bring the Major League Baseball team to Las Vegas, contingent on state lawmakers approving a nine-figure public financing package to assist with stadium construction.

Under the terms of the “binding agreement,” GLPI, which owns the 34-acre site at Tropicana Boulevard and the Strip, will provide up to $175 million toward “certain shared improvements within the future development in exchange for a commensurate rent increase.” 

GLPI and Bally’s said the team would be given nine acres for the stadium.

The plans for a $1.5 billion retractable roof facility still require legislative approval for $395 million in public financing sought for the project. No bill to do so has been introduced with three weeks left in the state’s 120-day Legislature, but action on any financing deals is expected to quickly ramp up this week.

Last week, The Nevada Independent first reported the A’s had scrapped a deal for a site on 49 acres west of Interstate 15 that it had announced on April 20 and was now working with Bally’s on the Tropicana site for the ballpark.

In the statement, Bally’s said the stadium would “accommodate approximately 30,000 fans,” as opposed to the 35,000-seat ballpark that had been previously announced. It would be the smallest ballpark in Major League Baseball, behind the nearly 35,000 seats at Progressive Field in Cleveland.

Bally’s predicted the ballpark would attract more than 2.5 million fans and visitors annually.

The A’s were initially looking to secure legislative support for a $500 million public funding package involving tax credits and the creation of a special taxation district to help fund stadium construction. Sources told the Independent the new location reduced the public financing requirement by $105 million.

The early morning announcement marked the first time the two public companies acknowledged the deal. Bally’s operates the Tropicana under a lease agreement with GLPI, which owns the land. The casino operator pays $10.5 million in rent annually under a 50-year deal.

In an interview with the Independent Monday, Bally’s Chairman Soo Kim said the A’s are not paying for the stadium land, as opposed to the undisclosed costs the team would have paid for the original 49-acre location that is owned by Red Rock Resorts.

“By giving the A’s the land, we’re showing our belief in the value of having this stadium,” Kim said. “I have good relations with a lot of the community groups in Vegas, which we've been building. We're going to have a very strong community benefits package that makes it clear that everyone is benefiting from this.” 

Rhode Island-based Bally’s, which operates 15 casinos in 10 states, owns Bally’s Lake Tahoe. The company is opening a temporary casino in downtown Chicago later this year. The facility is a prelude to the company’s planned $1.7 billion resort complex at the former Chicago Tribune plant along the Chicago River.

Kim said Bally’s agreement with the A’s is subject to legislative approval for public financing, other related agreements, and approval of relocation by Major League Baseball. 

“We believe the size of this venue, smaller than 60,000 seats [at Allegiant Stadium] and larger than 18,000 seats [T-Mobile Arena], can complement the other venues on the Strip,” Kim said.

Truist Securities gaming analyst Barry Jonas told investors in a research note the economics of the deal with Bally’s and GLPI “was more favorable for the A’s because of the free 9 acres and lower public financing figure.”

Bally’s stock price increased 7 percent Monday on the news.  

A reflection of the Tropicana Hotel and Casino seen on Tuesday, May 9, 2023. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

GLPI Chairman and CEO Peter Carlino said in the joint statement that the company was on board with helping in the A’s “exciting vision for a new ballpark through our contribution of 9 acres of the Tropicana site and look forward to the prominent place that the overall project will occupy in the Las Vegas skyline.”

Carlino said the REIT would have additional opportunities “to invest in the various aspects of the overall project.”

The A’s are looking to replace the dilapidated 57-year-old Oakland County Coliseum and have been exploring Southern Nevada for a site for almost two years.

"We are excited about the potential to bring Major League Baseball to this iconic location,” A’s President Dave Kaval said in a statement. “We are thrilled to work alongside Bally's and GLPI, and look forward to finalizing plans to bring the Athletics to Southern Nevada."

Kim said Bally’s would continue to operate Tropicana Las Vegas for the foreseeable future while evaluating the company evaluates available options for a broader redevelopment of the remainder of the site that will be adjacent to the new ballpark.

“We think it will have it sorted out in the near future,” Kim said. “To be frank, this casino was built in 1959. It’s one of the last of the old ones. While it’s historic, it’s amazing it’s still here. It doesn’t capture the current realities of the market. I think we'll be able to present something very different over time.”

Bally’s, which also owns Bally’s Lake Tahoe, acquired the operations of the Tropicana from Gaming and Leisure in September as part of a $148 million deal that involved Penn Entertainment. Sources told the Independent last week the hotel-casino would be demolished to give the A’s a clean slate on which to build the stadium.

“The Tropicana has been a landmark of Las Vegas for generations, and this development will enhance this iconic site for generations to come,” Bally’s President George Papanier said in a statement. “We are committed to ensuring that the development and ballpark built in its place will become a new landmark, paying homage to the iconic history and global appeal of Las Vegas

(Updated at 3:40 p.m. on 5/15/2023 with comments from Bally’s Chairman Soo Kim)

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