Is 9 acres enough? Digging into the A’s Las Vegas Strip ballpark proposal
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - As Major League Baseball waits for the Oakland Athletics to make a pitch to move from the Bay Area to Las Vegas, the team still plans to build a new stadium on the site of the Tropicana.
The site is only nine acres out of the 35 available on the Tropicana property. Bally’s Corporation, which owns the site, has said it’s still working out how to utilize the remaining 26 acres.
“When I heard nine acres, I did a double-take, frankly,” said Lawrence University Professor of History Jerald Podair. “That is going to be a very very difficult build.”
Podair is a ballpark expert, having wrote the 2017 book “City of Dreams: Dodger Stadium and the Birth of Modern Los Angeles.”
He’s skeptical about the ambitious $1.5 billion stadium the A’s plan to build, particularly concerning the retractable roof, which can take up several acres on its own. When the roof is open, it needs a place to go. Only one MLB stadium’s roof does not take up any extra space: American Family Field in Milwaukee.
“This is a roof that has a design that probably takes up the minimum amount of space you would need for a roof like that,” Podair explained, adding that the A’s would almost certainly have to follow that blueprint.
Target Field in Minneapolis is the only MLB stadium built on a plot of land smaller than nine acres, but it does not have a retractable roof.
Podair also worries about parking.
“Anyone who has driven to Dodger Stadium for a game knows how difficult it can be to get in and out,” he said. “It will be even more difficult in this ballpark because you’re in the middle of the equivalent of a city.”
There’s also the issue of the $380 million pledged by the Nevada Legislature, and whether the team will be able to make the public investment worth it. FOX5 asked Podair about the track record of teams that take public money to build their stadiums and whether the city, county and state wind up in the black, as promised by the proponents of the Tropicana site.
“They never do,” he deadpanned. “They never make back the money at least in the time that the proponents say they will.”
But Podair says he’d still be in favor of the team coming to Las Vegas if he lived here.
“All that said, I still advise cities to get major league franchises if they possibly can,” he said.
Podair argues that a baseball team brings something that cannot be quantified with dollars and cents.
“They contribute a sense of what I call civic glue,” he explained. “They glue a community together. They bring people together.”
When asked whether Las Vegas should want to welcome the A’s or hold out hope for an expansion franchise instead, possibly sometime later this decade, Podair likened the city’s position to a bird in the hand situation. With no guarantees about expansion, he explained, this might be the best opportunity to get a major league team in Las Vegas.
The next step for the A’s and the team’s efforts to move to Las Vegas is filling out a relocation application. MLB owners have to meet, vote on the application, and decide to keep or waive a relocation fee that would likely be hundreds of millions of dollars.
Construction at the Tropicana site could start in 2025, with the first pitch in 2028. The team has one more year left on its lease at its current stadium, so it will play at least one more season in Oakland, but the interim plan is still up in the air.
On Wednesday night, New York Yankees pitcher Domingo German pitched a perfect game against the Athletics in Oakland. It was only the 24th perfect game in MLB history and the first since 2012.
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