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Tropicana demolition on track for late 2024 if A’s receive relocation approval

The Las Vegas Stadium Authority discussed the potential move of the MLB team to Las Vegas for the first time since lawmakers approved $380M in public financing.
Howard Stutz
Howard Stutz
A's stadiumEconomySports

If all the pieces fall into place for the planned relocation of the Oakland A’s to a $1.5 billion Major League Baseball stadium on the Las Vegas Strip, the Tropicana Las Vegas would have to be closed and demolished by the end of next year.

Ross Edwards, senior vice president of operations at Mortenson McCarthy, the construction management firm hired by the A’s to oversee the ballpark’s development, told the Las Vegas Stadium Authority board Wednesday that construction on the 33,000-seat stadium has to begin by April 2025.

But there are still several hurdles to be met, namely an expected vote on the team’s relocation by Major League Baseball owners when they meet next month in Arlington, Texas. The A’s filed the relocation paperwork earlier this summer and the move requires 75 percent approval from the owners.

Wednesday’s 90-minute meeting by the stadium authority was the first time the panel discussed the proposed ballpark since Nevada lawmakers approved SB1, a measure that committed up to $380 million in public financing for the stadium through a combination of tax credits and Clark County-issued bonds, during a special legislative session in June. Gov. Joe Lombardo signed the bill.

The retractable-roof ballpark is planned for 9 acres of a 35-acre site on the Strip’s south end that currently houses the Tropicana. Bally’s Corp., which operates the hotel-casino, has said it would demolish the Rat Pack-era property and build a new development after the stadium is completed.

A’s President Dave Kaval attended the hearing but did not address the board, letting representatives from the construction management firm handle the overview. Mortenson McCarthy oversaw the construction of the $1.9 billion Allegiant Stadium.

Mortenson McCarthy General Manager Logan Gerken told the board the firm is following the “successful” game plan it used to develop Allegiant Stadium and outreach has already started by “engaging all of the key stakeholders that are seeking interest in this project.”

Local labor organization representatives, who backed the A’s legislation during hearings in Carson City, provided comments in support of the stadium during the public hearing portion of the meeting.

During the meeting, the cover page for a power point presentation shown on a large monitor in the Las Vegas Convention Center hearing room included a rendering of the ballpark that was provided on May 26, the day the legislation language for the bill was released. The A’s have since said images distributed in May were obsolete.

Following the hearing, the A’s released a statement saying the team would provide “stadium planning and other details after the mid-November owners' meeting.” The team said its representatives have been meeting with the Clark County Commission, the stadium authority board and other community leaders.

"Whether it’s supporting community needs or ensuring that we are addressing all questions from policy leaders, we are committed to being a strong community partner and contributor,” the team said in the unsigned statement.

The stadium authority board discussed preliminary drafts of the proposed 30-year lease the A’s would sign for the stadium and a community benefits agreement, much of which was spelled out in the legislation. 

Stadium Authority Chairman Steve Hill, who is CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and testified on behalf of the A’s at the legislature, said it's expected both documents would be available for board and public review at the authority’s Dec. 14 meeting.

Hill went through several sections of the community benefits agreement, which requires an annual financial commitment to Southern Nevada of $2 million or 1 percent of the A’s ticket sales, whichever is greater.

The lease agreement is expected to contain more than a dozen different terms, including the amount of rent the A’s will pay to utilize the ballpark and the eventual stadium naming rights. There also will be a 30-year nonrelocation commitment placed on the team.

Hill said the language is much easier to draft given the stadium authority went through a similar process with the Raiders in 2018. Similar to the board’s oversight of Allegiant, the A’s will transfer the ownership of the ballpark to the stadium authority once the project is completed.

“We're fortunate to have had the opportunity to start from scratch from this process with the Raiders,” Hill said. “This document has worked exceptionally well.”

The A’s are expected to shoulder more than three-quarters of the stadium’s development costs, but it’s unclear how the team plans to privately finance the remaining $1.1 billion.

Kavel said in August the team was working to secure that financing, which would include a commitment by the family of A’s owner John Fisher to “make one of the largest equity contributions” ever by a major league owner toward the cost of building a new ballpark.


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