It’s becoming clear that the Oakland A’s would flat-out prefer Las Vegas, as they’ve made a bid on a property along the Strip as the Howard Terminal stadium plan continues to languish.
With fans now back in pro sports stadiums, it’s becoming clear that the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas was a huge success. Oh sure there have been off-field issues, like firing their coach over racist emails, and you know, the player who may have killed someone because he was allegedly driving drunk at 156 miles an hour.
But human life and racist behavior do not concern pro sports owners, they only care about money. And even though Las Vegas is a relatively tiny market (42nd largest in the nation), the Raiders are selling out games. Half the audience may be tourists rooting for the visiting team, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that the system works, people are buying tickets, and the Las Vegas market is over-performing relative to its population size.
That’s why we’re seeing two significant reports this week, as the Chronicle reports today that Las Vegas is becoming more attractive to the A’s. More significantly, CNBC reported yesterday that the A’s have made an offer on some land on the Las Vegas strip.
The A’s have not bought that land yet, they’ve only made an undisclosed offer. “The site is likely Bally’s Tropicana,” CNBC reported Wednesday. “There’s a lot of land available, certainly enough for a professional baseball stadium to go on to the Tropicana site.”
And while it’s long seemed that the whole Las Vegas thing was a leverage move to get their new Jack London Square ballpark approved in the most favorable terms, the Chron notes that the possibility has become quite real. “What was once viewed as an attempt to pressure Oakland decision-makers into green-lighting the team’s preferred location for a waterfront ballpark might be more than a negotiation tactic,” the Chronicle reports. “There is a growing belief in Las Vegas that the A’s will join the Raiders, the NHL’s Golden Knights and the WNBA’s Aces as the city’s next major sports franchise.”
The Chronicle also notes that suburban Las Vegas already has a very classy new minor-league stadium that the A's have toured — where A's AAA affiliates the Las Vegas Aviators play — and that the market is, indeed, very excited about baseball in general.
But there are two very major, bigger-picture issues that neither of these reports acknowledges.
Hey, did you know that as of midnight last night, there is an MLB lockout underway? The current collective bargaining agreement expired, and players and owners did not agree on a new one, and the owners will not even allow players to enter facilities. Could this work stoppage bleed into next season, and cancel games? It sure could! The 1994-95 baseball strike lasted nearly eight months, and this could theoretically last even longer. So frankly, everything in baseball right now is total back-burner issue compared to the lockout.
Sports Gambling and there’s no other reason https://t.co/RGVE4LNcz9— okañe (@_okane__) November 26, 2021
And there other issue is gambling, which you may have noticed, has become shockingly normalized in sports broadcasts. We now see ads for online betting during national TV broadcasts, and the old tiptoe, dance-around language of “significant to some” has given way to explicit on-air discussion of point spreads, “locks,” and “bad bets.” Gambling is of course the fabric of Las Vegas, and many franchise owners are now fully in bed with the gambling industry, which had been completely taboo just a few years ago.
If Las Vegas offers the Athletics significant opportunities for gambling side revenue, it’s a fair bet the team would go all-in on that.
Image: @julianpaefgen via Unsplash