By Alan Snel of LVSportsBiz.com
For those who thought last week’s San Francisco Bay Commission vote scuttled any chance of the Oakland Athletics moving to Las Vegas, please take the advice of baseball’s oracle and goldsmith Yogi Berra.
“It’s not over until it’s over.”
Granted, not a single elected official from Nevada or Clark County has backed the idea of using public money to help build a track and field stadium in Las Vegas — until now.
But major league teams seeking subsidized sports venues are the stuff of soap operas, an ongoing drama series with episodes and twists. So it’s not a done deal for athletics in Oakland.
Officially speaking, the San Francisco Bay Area Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) has voted to remove the Port of Oakland Howard Property from priority port use.
As the Port of Oakland said in a statement, “This is a major step in the process of developing the Howard property’s proposed development as a baseball stadium, as well as retail, office , housing, parks, significant open space and more public access to the waterfront which, combined, will create thousands of jobs.
But for fans who want the A’s to move to Las Vegas, there’s still plenty of talk and talk between the city of Oakland and the MLB team that played at the outdated Oakland Coliseum for 54 years.
“We appreciate the BCDC commissioners’ thoughtful and careful review of the Howard property,” Port of Oakland Executive Director Danny Wan said.
“Their vote clears the way for the ballpark development project to move through the next round of approvals process; it also allows the City of Oakland and the A’s to have more detailed discussions about the potential benefits of the proposed stadium project,” Wan said.
The two current major league teams in Las Vegas are examples of both a local team like the Vegas Golden Knights and a team migrating from another market, the Las Vegas Raiders.
The economic success of the Golden Knights is linked to the original emotional connection to the Las Vegas market, while the Raiders are a national brand and function as much as an NFL tourist attraction in Las Vegas as the home sports team of the southern Nevada. .
If they move to Vegas, the A’s are expected to draw fans to 81 home dates – a challenge for a market that’s the 27th largest in the United States.
The Athletics has its Triple A affiliate here in Las Vegas, so A fans can watch these players. But it’s not like the Las Vegas market is filled with Oakland Athletics fans. Anecdotally, the team with the largest demographic footprint in the Las Vegas market is the Los Angeles Dodgers, with the San Diego Padres trailing the Dodgers.
The Athletics is not a national sports brand like the Raiders, which can draw visitors to Las Vegas on game day from SoCal and Northern California as well as markets across the United States.
Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak, who backed the $750 million public grant to help build the Raiders’ stadium, said there was no public money to help build a baseball stadium athletics. But Sisolak, who sits next to Raiders/Aces owner Mark Davis at Aces home games in Las Vegas, is getting re-elected this year.
So if Republican candidate Joe Lombardo defeats Sisolak in November, public funding policy could change.