Las Vegas kicks off athletics with ‘a better opportunity’

Paul GutierrezESPN Writer3 minute read

LAS VEGAS — As the Oakland Athletics consider moving to southern Nevada, Las Vegas baseball officials insist the gambling capital is ready to take on a Major League Baseball franchise.

Las Vegas has been home to a Triple-A team since 1983, and currently the club is affiliated with athletics. The city also hosts the Athletics and the Cincinnati Reds this weekend for a two-game spring training series at the Las Vegas Ballpark.

“Las Vegas has always been a unique sports market, a very good sports market,” Don Logan, president and chief operating officer of the Triple-A Aviators, told ESPN on Saturday. “Makes sense. My point, get the best deal you can in Vegas and start activating this community. And everyone else (fanbase).

“Las Vegas offers a dynamic that no other team has. We have 45 million visitors a year in this market and that’s what we want – head in bed. That’s what Las Vegas is. .”

Logan, who acknowledged a retractable-roof stadium would be needed for the summer when temperatures routinely hit 110 degrees, said Las Vegas first looked at the A’s in a ‘silent review’ for a possible relocation in 2004.

“It’s a better opportunity here (for the A’s) in the long run.”

Las Vegas has been affiliated with the San Diego Padres from 1983 to 2000, the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2001 to 2008, the Toronto Blue Jays from 2009 to 2012, the New York Mets from 2013 to 2018, and the A’s since 2019.

The A’s, meanwhile, have played at the Oakland Coliseum since leaving Kansas City in 1968 and have also flirted with San Jose and Fremont. They are also currently exploring a waterfront site in Oakland.

When asked if he preferred a new stadium in Oakland or Las Vegas, A’s general manager David Forst said: “Hopefully the A’s get a stadium. I’m not taking sides. The only thing that affects the way we operate in baseball operations is actually having a facility.

“We really can’t spend a lot of time thinking about where right now.”

A’s manager Mark Kotsay echoed the company line during batting practice, saying, “For us as an organization, we continue to pursue both Oakland and Vegas. and we call it the parallel path. For us, we are always looking for the opportunity in front of us.”

Big League weekend, which began in 1991 at Cashman Field in downtown Las Vegas, moved to Summerlin’s Ballpark in 2020, when the A’s played in Cleveland. So the fact that the A’s are playing here amid so many relocation rumors and reports gave this series a certain irony.

In 1996, the A’s played the first six games of their regular season at Cashman Field while the Oakland Coliseum was still under renovation with the 1995 return of the Raiders from Los Angeles.

The Raiders, however, have called Las Vegas their home since 2020, and the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights have played there since 2017. The WNBA’s Aces, who moved to Las Vegas in 2018 from San Antonio, won the championship of the league last year. The NBA is also reportedly eyeing Las Vegas.

Jason Giambi, the 2000 American League MVP for the A’s who also played in those 1996 opening series, was everything for an MLB team moving to Las Vegas, its home since 1998, whether the A’s or an expansion team to help baseball get up to 32 teams.

Giambi was at the Cactus League game on Saturday with his traveling youth baseball team, the Henderson Hawks, and was however torn, saying he felt for “some of the biggest fans in the world” with an A hit.

“But also,” he added, “to be more relevant in baseball, you have to be competitive.”

A new stadium, in a new market, could allow that. Reported potential stadium sites include the current locations of the Rio and Tropicana resorts.

“They want it, people are hungry for it here,” Giambi said. “Every night is sold out at the Knights. Every night is sold out at the Raiders. Not only do you attract your own fans, you attract everyone else too.”

As Giambi said, there’s also no competition for the summer sports dollar in Las Vegas.

“I came here as a Triple-A player, and it was the best five days of my life. Are you kidding me?” he’s laughing. “There’s nothing quite like it. You can wake up in the middle of the night, at 2 a.m., go get your breakfast, go see a show, whatever you want to do. It’s a bit the wild Wild West. It’s not like that anywhere else.”

Leave a Comment