Just weeks after the Oakland Athletics (A’s) organization announced it had entered into an agreement with Red Rock Resorts to purchase the site of the former Wild Wild West casino to house its new $1.5 billion ballpark, the team has made a surprising pivot, deciding instead to sign with Bally’s Corp. to build the park on the land where the Tropicana is located.
The new plan would involve the Tropicana being demolished to make way for the stadium, which is expected to have a capacity of 30,000 and a semi-retractable roof.
Per the <i>Nevada Independent</i>, a source close to the situation confirmed that the latest development “is now the deal. This is what we’re working on.”
According to another anonymous source quoted by the <i>Las Vegas Review-Journal</i>, the stadium would take up nine of the 35 acres on the plot, and Bally’s retains the right to develop a new casino-resort on the remaining acreage as part of the deal.
According to the <i>Review-Journal</i>’s source, the demolition of the casino may push the construction timeline for the stadium back by one season. The team originally planned to debut in Las Vegas for the 2027 season, but the added work could mean Opening Day won’t come to Las Vegas until the following year.
One of the most notable aspects of the new deal is that it substantially lowers the amount of public funding the team is asking for—under the initial deal, the franchise was requesting $500 million in financing, which would have led to the creation of a special tax district around the stadium at the Wild West site.
The public asking price for the new agreement is said to be $395 million.
It is unclear at this time how exactly that proposal will change for the new site besides the asking amount, but the <i>Review-Journal</i> indicated that a similar tax proposal was currently being drafted for the new site.
One idea that was floated previously was to have nearby casino operators agree to offset any gaps in tax revenue from the stadium, which, according to projections from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, would have likely cost operators upwards of $10 million per year.
Some operators had voiced some support for the proposal, with the idea being that the added traffic and business would more than pay for the costs.
In any case, those involved must work quickly, as there are now less than 30 days remaining in the current legislative session to submit a new proposal. Should the team go on to secure public funds, it would likely be required to sign a non-relocation agreement of at least 30 years.
Governor Joe Lombardo did not give comment on the deal, but told the <i>Review-Journal</i> via spokeswoman last week that he was intent on getting something in place. “It is our preference to see this happen before the Legislature adjourns,” the governor’s statement said.
Representatives from the team, Bally’s and Red Rock did not give comment on the deal to the <i>Review-Journal. </i>Interestingly enough, Bally’s officials also did not announce the deal on the company’s first-quarter earnings call, which took place that morning.
President George Papanier did say at one point during the call, however, that the “A’s story is going to play itself out. The way we view the property (Tropicana) is we feel we have low hanging fruit that we can execute and that’s going to allow this property to pay for itself.”
Papanier also said that the company was “going to be patient about looking for the right project, with the appropriate terms,” which apparently presented itself shortly after.
Bally’s purchased the operations of the Tropicana in a $148 million deal with Gaming and Leisure Properties (GLPI) late last year. GLPI still owns the land assets, which means that the A’s did not have to pay land acquisition costs this time around.
Rumors had connected the Tropicana to A’s stadium talks for many months, but died away once it was announced that the team had signed the Wild Wild West deal with Red Rock. As it turned out, the deal was never dead all along.