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A’s reject terms of stadium vote in Oakland, will continue exploring Southern Nevada relocation

Howard Stutz
Howard Stutz
Economy & BusinessGaming
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Southern Nevada seemingly moved to the forefront as a potential new home for the Oakland A’s Tuesday, even as members of the Oakland City Council reluctantly agreed on a development agreement for a new waterfront baseball stadium.

In a split vote on a term sheet that included several concessions to the A’s, council members agreed to continue negotiations with the ballclub. But it's unclear whether the A’s are interested in that path.

“We were hoping today would be a yes vote on our proposal or a close derivative,” A’s President David Kaval told the city council during the nearly three-and-a-half-hour hearing. “A yes vote on the city’s counter (offer) is not a path forward.”

Kaval and other members of the A’s leadership have made three trips to Southern Nevada to explore locations for an estimated $1 billion retractable roof ballpark with 33,000-to-35,000 seats. The A’s contingent made plans to return to Las Vegas Wednesday, even ahead of Tuesday’s vote.

The A’s are looking at some two dozen potential sites on or near the Las Vegas Strip and outside the resort corridor, including Summerlin, Henderson and downtown Las Vegas. In an interview with The Nevada Independent last week, Kaval said the team was on parallel paths in its effort to seek a ballpark to replace the crumbling Oakland Coliseum.

In an interview Thursday afternoon, Kaval said the group plans to meet with the stadium architect to make a better determination on how the facility would sit on different sites. He said a meeting is planned with Treasure Island owner Phil Ruffin about the Las Vegas Festival Grounds, a 60-acre site at the corner of the Strip and Sahara Avenue he acquired from MGM Resorts in 2019 as part of his $825 million purchase of Circus Circus. 

“We have a lot of momentum here. It’s a fourth trip and there will be more,” Kaval said. “There is a lot we need to understand, such as how the retractable roof would work.”

The A’s interest in Southern Nevada comes five years after the Oakland Raiders gained the single-largest-ever pot of public money for a stadium project in the U.S. – $750 million – to help develop the $1.9 billion, 65,000-seat glass-domed Allegiant Stadium. A special session of the Legislature was needed to approve an increase in the Strip’s hotel room tax.

The unanswered question, in addition to the location, is how much the A’s would seek in public financing from Southern Nevada to build a stadium. Kaval did not comment on any of the particulars Thursday. He said the A’s don’t plan to look at other cities unless the team is advised to do so by Major League Baseball.

“That is a decision made by the commissioner’s office,” Kaval said. “Right now, we are on parallel paths.”

A spokeswoman for Henderson said in an email, “The city’s stance remains unchanged. We are open to continuing discussions with the Oakland A’s on the possibility of relocating to Henderson.”

In Oakland, the newly approved term sheet covered a 34,000-seat stadium within a $12 billion development at the Howard Terminal along the Port of Oakland near the city’s Jack London Square.

The city council was split on continuing talks with the A’s. Six members of the council voted in favor of the term sheet. One member was opposed and one council member abstained. Several of the members who cast favorable votes said they were reluctant to continue negotiations. 

As part of the compromise reached in the term sheet, the city agreed the A’s would not be responsible for $352 million in infrastructure investment for the site and agreed to a 25-year non-relocation clause. The city originally wanted a 40-year agreement.  

However, Kaval told council members, “from our perspective, this is not a term sheet that works for the A’s. The current term sheet, even with these amendments, is not something the A's have consensus around."

He said after the hearing the A’s will evaluate the changes made to the term sheet by the city council. “We owe it to the process,” Kaval said.

The vote followed more than three hours of debate, which included some 90 minutes of often-heated public comments. Many of the speakers wanted the A’s to renovate or rebuild the 56-year-old Coliseum, where the team is contracted to play until 2024.

“I’m not sure why we are here today,” said Councilmember Carroll Fife. “We are voting for something the A’s are going to turn down. The A’s are still talking about leaving, even with everything we’ve come up with. I don’t know where we go from here.”

Kaval has said Major League Baseball rejected the Coliseum site. He said Thursday that has been made clear to the council members.

“The league said a renovation or a new rebuild is not something that fits the future of baseball,” he said.

Following the vote, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas and Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan said in a joint statement, “Based on our extensive negotiations, shared values and shared vision, we believe the A's can and should agree to the terms approved by the City Council today.”

Update at 5:10 p.m on 7/21/2021: Updated with additional quotes from A's President David Kaval.

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