Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak is threatening to block the Oakland Athletics from moving to Las Vegas, pushing back against the MLB team’s demands for hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies for a new stadium, The Post has learned.
Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred recently discussed the A’s move with Sisolak, signaling that the team has the backing of fellow MLB owners who would vote to approve the relocation, sources with knowledge of the talks said.
“Baseball has already cleared the move,” according to one well-placed source.
Manfred, however, also has reported to Gov. Sisolak and the A’s that he will not approve the move unless Nevada provides some public financing for a $1 billion-plus, 30,000-seat, domed stadium. That’s because Manfred does not want to set a bad precedent for other owners looking to negotiate their own new stadium deals, sources said.
While Manfred did not set a minimum for the public financing, insiders said it is believed to be in the range of $275 million. That’s well below the $500 million Arlington, Texas, paid toward a $1.1 billion, retractable-roof stadium that opened in 2020 for the Texas Rangers. Elsewhere, Cobb County, Georgia, paid $300 million for a new stadium that opened in 2017 for the now World Champion Atlanta Braves.
Nevertheless, insiders say Sisolak appears reluctant to approve any such subsidy ahead of his November re-election campaign. It doesn’t help that New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, a fellow Democrat, is facing a backlash for proposing a record $850 million giveaway for a new Buffalo Bills stadium in what will be her election year, a source close to the situation said.
“I think they find a way to get Vegas done,” a source close to the situation said, adding that talks may get pushed back until next year because of Sisolak’s “political vulnerability.”
“I think it is the timing issue that makes this difficult,” the source said.
In December, Sisolak told the Nevada Independent newspaper he would not support a hotel room tax to fund a new baseball stadium. That’s after he helped raise $750 million with a $2-a-night tax to build the football stadium for the Las Vegas Raiders that opened in 2020.
Insiders said Sisolak may also be hesitating because of powerful constituent MGM Resorts, which owns nearly 40 percent of all hotel rooms in Sin City, as well as a sizable collection of entertainment spaces that could be threatened by the addition of a 30,000-seat, domed baseball stadium.
MGM initially objected to building the Raiders stadium, but was persuaded that 75% of fans going to Raiders games and other events at the stadium would be tourists, many of whom might not be in the city otherwise, a source familiar with those talks said.
“They took one for the city in allowing the Raiders,” and are likely reluctant to do that again, the source said.
Meanwhile, MGM and AEG paid $375 million in 2016 with no public money to build the 20,000-seat indoor T-Mobile Arena that’s home to the Las Vegas Golden Knights NHL team.
Last month, the Oak View Group, headed by Tim Leiweke, announced it has bought 25 acres south of the Las Vegas Strip where it plans to build a $1 billion, 20,000-seat arena for a possible NBA franchise and concerts. Leiweke did not talk about seeking public financing.
Nevertheless, sources said the A’s may find it hard to justify a move without some public funding. The team has a relatively good broadcast rights deal in Oakland, which keeps the team modestly profitable despite the fact that last season the A’s averaged just 8,767 fans per game at 56-year-old RingCentral Coliseum, which seats 63,000.
The A’s lease on the stadium expires in 2024, and A’s owner John Fisher — scion of the Gap clothing store empire — has spent more than $10 million exploring possible stadium plans for both Oakland and Las Vegas, sources said.
On March 16, however, San Francisco Bay planning officials rejected Fisher’s proposal for a $12 billion waterfront office, hotel and retail development that would have included a $1 billion ballpark. Fisher had been seeking around $200 million for the project, according to a source.
Nevertheless, Fisher’s plans have gained scant public support. City officials instead voted to keep the proposed site, Howard Terminal, as a maritime facility amid legal pressure from shipping groups.
MLB wants the A’s to move, if necessary, to a western US state. Alternative cities including Austin, Portland and Vancouver and even Mexico City have been floated, but all have issues making MLB approval uncertain, sources said. There are rival teams in Austin, Portland and Vancouver who might be able to block a move. In the case of Mexico City, players might not want to live there, sources said.
The A’s, MLB and Gov. Sisolak all declined comment or did not return calls by press time.
A’s President Dave Kaval said Thursday that they were close to a deal on a Las Vegas site to build a stadium, according to Front Office Sports.
“There’s been a tremendous amount of negotiation in a positive way, and we hope to have a final one shortly here that we can announce and really move forward to the next stage,” he reportedly said.