Don’t Worry About Las VegA’s

There’s no need to panic about Oakland losing the A’s to Sin City the way they are losing the Raiders.

Not for a few years, at least.

AAA (and former temporary A’s) home Cashman Field

I’m not going to rehash the market size/potential/franchise competition arguments. I did that 10 years before desperate Raiders fans were doing the same. The simple problem for Las Vegas is that the region, or Clark County in particular, shot their wad in bringing in the Raiders. The vehicle for funding numerous improvements around Clark County, the room tax, is currently 12-13% for most properties in the area. A 0.88% hike for stadium funding would bring the tax to around 14%, probably the most local hotels would be will to swallow, since taxes above that percentage start to become less competitive against other vacation/convention locales such as San Diego, Orlando, or Los Angeles.

Clark County hotel tax shares and hikes for the last 30+ years (Las Vegas Sun)

The “cap” also becomes important when considering how revenue shortfalls could be addressed at the stadium. The Raiders aren’t being charged rent at the stadium, but they will assume operations and with that, operating costs. If that becomes difficult to handle and the team cries poor, guess what the first source to tap will be? The same one that will provide some $50 million a year to start and is being collected as you read this.

In short, Vegas doesn’t have a funding source for a stadium. And as we saw with San Jose, just offering a site to the A’s on which they’d have to self-fund a stadium is not going to cut it. From a structural standpoint, it simply doesn’t work.

The Vegas talk was triggered by comments from Rob Manfred, who spoke last week on the topic. Manfred has opened to possibility of MLB expansion, which hasn’t been considered since the last round in 1998 (Tampa Bay and Arizona). Expansion can’t happen until the St. Petersburg (ironic) and Oakland (tragic) stadium problems are resolved. And if they aren’t resolved to Manfred’s and the Lodge’s satisfaction, Las Vegas and Montreal remain as relocation threats, no matter how hollow those threats are.

Manfred’s stated support for Oakland over the last couple years is not lip service. He’s giving John Fisher and Dave Kaval space to complete their work, and the City of Oakland time to get its shit together. He didn’t see Oakland A’s Forever!

“Until Tampa and Oakland are resolved, I don’t see us expanding as a practical matter. It could be an expansion or relocation site,” Manfred said. “I understand the demographics and it could work, based on the size of the city.”

Now that the Raiders have one foot out the door, everything can and should come together for a deal that should satisfy practically all in Oakland. If it doesn’t in five or ten years, the Commissioner can and will complain about the lack of progress. He or some heretofore unknown corporate henchman will talk down Oakland’s commitment, just as Eric Grubman did for the NFL and Roger Goodell. I riffed on this when I first heard about Manfred’s comments.

If all goes well, the only role we’ll see involves Manfred wearing a hard hat and holding a shovel. If not, well, you can’t say you didn’t see the plot twist coming.

15 thoughts on “Don’t Worry About Las VegA’s

  1. Did we need this post? Dave Kaval has been pretty unequivocal. I have on good authority the A’s will build at Laney.

  2. @ pauldavid

    I wish that good authority would speak the hell up.

  3. The A’s are doing their homework to pick the best Oakland site for their new ballpark. With that said, Laney is hands down the best of the proposed sites.

    • howard terminal i think has the most potential and the hardest to make happen.

      coliseum is the easiest and has the least amount of wow factor.

      laney might be right in the middle. but without the necessary space to build a ballpark village as kaval said he wants around the a’s new park i don’t think realistically it’s in consideration right now.

      just don’t see the land available to build and or the space from the local businesses to have the ballpark village near the park at that site.

      with laney college and a elementary school basically across the street from the site where the park would be located, i can’t imagine the push back that site would get.

      • There are three “parcels” that can be developed.

        The Laney College Athletic Fields, the Peralta Community College District Office (right across 8th Street) and then there is the parking lot across Lake Merritt Channel from the CCD Office.

        There is more than enough room to build a ballpark, a village the size of what the Cardinals have built in St. Louis AND a parking garage to get premium ticket holders, team employees, etc. to park within walking distance.

        There could even be a site plan that has the stadium where the CCD Offices are and a mixed use development where the Athletic Fields are, which would keep the stadium away from the elementary school.

        This is not to say that is a slam dunk and easy and yadda, yadda, yadda. The only spot where it’s going to be simple and easy (relatively) is the Coliseum.

  4. No way can Vegas support a baseball team. The games are too many and atleast NFL games are on Sundays or just once a week. I just don’t see a baseball team successful in the market. If I were MLB, I’d prefer (still threaten for leverage) to see the Rays in Tampa and the A’s in Oakland. If none of that works in 5 years or so then maybe MTL, Canada instead.

  5. Question: How far (walking distance) are the Peralta and Laney sites from BART Lake Merritt Station?

  6. ML or Jeffrey, you guys may or may not choose to answer these questions as it’s all speculation right now, but assuming the Laney College site is selected, how do you envision the A’s and the City of Oakland handling the relocation of the college and the CCD offices? Any WAG as to how much all of this would cost? Are all 3 parcels necessary in order to make the site work, or will just 1 or 2 be sufficient? Thanks

    • 1. I think only the Athletic Fields are in play. Not the Peralta admin offices.
      2. It can work as long as some tough decisions are made about Laney’s athletics program.
      3. Everything else is the normal CEQA/EIR process.

    • Any theoretical stadium only needs either the Athletic Fields or the CCD Office, from a physical footprint standpoint. I don’t even know that the parking lot has ever been discussed as part of a development, I just see it there and realize it’s important that some kind of parking nearby is included in whatever plan may take shape in that area.

      No idea how they are planing on financing the building, what land acquisition would cost, what process that would follow, etc… There are a lot of details to be negotiated, hurdles to be identified and overcome, etc. I imagine that the reason we haven’t heard anything from the A’s yet is because they are lining these up and knocking them down as much as they can before going all in.

      All of that is important to really give an idea of the cost to build there. In 2001/2 the HOK study put Laney College as comparable in costs to Howard Terminal and it also was assumed to take longer to complete.

      Just like Howard Terminal, the 15 year old study is really only good in the context in which it was created and much has changed since it was done.

      As a site, I like Laney College better than Howard Terminal because of the BART access (twice as far as the Coliseum, but less than half as far as Howard Terminal AND within a mile of two BART lines), the potential synergy with both JLS and Downtown Oakland. That doesn’t mean it’s any easier to pull off.

    • Thanks guys. I too prefer the Laney College site, though I can see where in some ways it may be more difficult to get done than HT. I’d imagine the EIR would ID traffic, noise and parking as just some of the major issues. A quick look at Google maps shows the surrounding area mostly residential, schools and light industrial. I have a hard time imagining a ballpark village nestled within all of this. I don’t think we could expect the same type of transformation that has taken place at China Basin.

  7. One distinct advantage that the Laney site has over the other proposed ballpark sites is that its surrounding area is already developed. As a result, it’s much easier and less risky for additional development to take place, as opposed to starting from scratch in an undeveloped area. Also, JLS is in fairly easy and close walking proximity to the proposed Laney site. With that fact, it will not be as crucial for the need to build a significant sized ballpark village at Laney.

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