Paul GutierrezESPN staff writer3 minutes to read
LAS VEGAS — As the Oakland Athletics mull the possibility of moving to southern Nevada, baseball officials in Las Vegas insist the gaming capital is ready to take over a Major League Baseball franchise.
Las Vegas has been home to a Triple-A team since 1983, currently, the club is the Athletics affiliate. The city also hosts the Athletics and Cincinnati Reds this weekend in a two-game spring training series at Las Vegas Ballpark.
“Las Vegas has always been a unique sports market, and a really good sports market,” Don Logan, president and chief operating officer of Triple-A Aviator, told ESPN on Saturday. “It makes sense. My point is, make the best deal you can in Vegas and start running this community. And every other (fan base).”
“Las Vegas offers a dynamism that no other team has. We have 45 million visitors a year in this market and that’s what we want – our heads in the family. That’s what Las Vegas is all about.”
Logan, who has acknowledged a need for a retractable-roof stadium in the summer, when temperatures regularly reach 110 degrees, said Las Vegas first considered the first division in a “quiet examination” of a possible move in 2004.
“It’s a better opportunity here (for the better) 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 18, and the A’s since 2019.
Meanwhile, the A’s have played at Oakland Coliseum since moving from Kansas City in 1968, as have San Jose and Fremont. They are also currently exploring a site on the waterfront in Auckland.
When asked if he would prefer a new stadium in Oakland or Las Vegas, A’s general manager David Forrest said, “I hope the players get a stadium. I’m not taking sides. The only thing that affects the way we operate in baseball operations He actually has a facility.
“We really can’t spend too much time thinking about the place right now.”
A’s manager Mark Kotsay echoed the company’s line during batting practice, saying, “For us as an organization, we keep striving both in Oakland and Vegas and call that parallel path. For us, we’re 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 Ballpark in Summerlin in 2020, when the A’s played Cleveland. So the A plays here amidst so many rumors and reports of relocations have given this series a certain irony.
In 1996, the A’s played their first six games of their regular season at Cashman Field while Oakland Coliseum was still undergoing renovation with the Raiders returning in 1995 from Los Angeles.
Despite this, the Raiders have called Las Vegas home since 2020, and the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights have played here since 2017. The WNBA team, which moved to Las Vegas in 2018 from San Antonio, won the league championship last year. It has also been rumored that the NBA is eyeing Las Vegas.
Jason Giambi, the 2000 American League MVP for the A clubs who also played in that 1996 Opening Series, every MLB team has been based in Las Vegas, his home since 1998, whether it’s an A team or an expansion team to help baseball get an up to 32 teams.
Giambi was at a Cactus League game Saturday with his youth baseball team, the Henderson Hawks, and was ripped, though, saying he felt “some of the greatest fans in the world” with the A’s.
“But also, to become important in baseball anymore, you have to be competitive,” he added.
A new stadium, in a new market, might allow it. Reported potential stadium locations include the current sites of the Rio and Tropicana resorts.
“They want it, and people here are hungry for it,” Giambi said. “Knights are sold out every night. Raiders are sold out every night. Not only do you draw in your fans, but you get everyone involved as well.”
Like Giambi said, there’s no competition for summer sports dollars in Las Vegas either.
“I came here as a Triple-A player, and it was the best five days of my life. Are you kidding me?” he laughed. “There’s nothing like it. You can get up in the middle of the night, at 2 a.m., go get breakfast, go see a show, whatever you want to do. It’s a bit of the wild, wild west. It’s not like anywhere else.”
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