The Oakland Athletics updated Major League Baseball officials this week on their fact-finding trip to Las Vegas.
The group from the A’s, which included owner John Fisher and president Dave Kaval, traveled to New York for the MLB owner’s meetings to discuss their mission to land a new stadium.
“It was positive about the two parallel paths (Las Vegas and Oakland) we’re on,” Kaval told the Review-Journal on Friday. “We gave everyone an update. I think everyone appreciates that we’re trying to find a solution to this 20-year saga that the A’s have had trying to find a new ballpark. That’s really important that that gets figured out because you can’t have a Major League Baseball team without a ballpark.”
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred declined to comment Friday on the A’s Las Vegas report.
With the A’s first visit to the Las Vegas Valley more of an introduction to the area, Kaval said all potential stadium sites they toured in Southern Nevada are still under consideration after being presented in New York.
“We obviously have the Resort Corridor that we’re evaluating,” Kaval said. “We have the sites in the city of Las Vegas, including the Cashman site. We have Henderson. We have Summerlin and all of those bring specific pros and cons with them.”
To whittle down their list, Kaval said the team is planning additional trips to Southern Nevada. During those trips, which have yet to be finalized, they’ll meet with some groups they met last time and ones they didn’t get the chance to on their first visit.
“Not only just landowners, but also people who know Southern Nevada to really understand the pros and cons,” Kaval said. “Also to understand … the mix of local fans versus tourists. That really can drive the thinking of where you would want to put a ballpark.”
Part of that is a feasibility study the A’s are conducting on the local market to get a sense of who would comprise an MLB crowd in Las Vegas. The details of that study — mainly the potential tourist versus local makeup — will play a large role in determining where the team chooses a potential stadium site.
With the lack of spaces to develop a stadium in Oakland, the number of available sites that could work for a ballpark in Southern Nevada was assuring to the team, Kaval said. The organization is still gathering information on what would work in the area.
“We’re trying to learn from people that are operating businesses or who are elected officials in Southern Nevada,” Kaval said. “As well as third parties who do a lot of research and understanding of market trends and things of that nature. We’re in the process of doing that, and that’s going to continue over time.”
Once the A’s wrap up their feasibility study, they will present the findings to valley residents to give them an idea of where a stadium could be constructed.
There’s still a ways to go before the team gets to that point, as the A’s are pitching a waterfront ballpark with a surrounding development in Oakland.
The Oakland City Council could give that project non-binding approval in a vote at their July 20 meeting, but that would be just the first of multiple steps needed to make the proposed stadium a reality.
“Subsequent to that (vote), the league and also us have been clear that we need a binding vote if it’s going to work in Oakland,” Kaval said. “You have to have a binding deal to know that you have an actual option. It’s important to understand that while July is an important step for Oakland and the likelihood of it working there, there is still another piece of it, which is getting to a final binding decision by the city council.”
Kaval said the earliest that binding vote could occur, assuming the stadium plan receives non-binding approval in July, is in September, once the environmental report for the proposed development is done and reviewed.
Despite rumors of the A’s possibly taking trips to other cities to see what they might have to offer the organization, Kaval doubled-down on his statements last week, saying they’re only interested in Oakland and Las Vegas.
“That’s really the effort right now,” Kaval said. “There are no other markets that we’re talking to at the current time.”
Kaval said he hasn’t heard any preferences from A’s players about where they’d like a potential ballpark to be built. He said they’re more relieved that there’s an effort being made to get a new facility.
“I think the focus that the players have is really on just getting to some type of resolution,” Kaval said. “Our current facility is substandard. So I think both our visiting teams and the home team, there’s been a lot of great history at the coliseum, but we struggle with a lot of operational challenges because it’s so old.
“I think everyone is excited that we’re bringing this to a head in a way that makes sense. That has really been the extent of the conversations to date.”