Tropicana Will Close April 2, Clearing Path for A’s Ballpark

It’s official: the Tropicana Las Vegas (l.) will close April 2 to make way for a new $1.5 billion ballpark for the Oakland A’s, soon to be the Las Vegas A’s. Additionally, team owner John Fisher recently made his first public speaking appearance, in which he confirmed the possibility of selling minority shares in the franchise.

Tropicana Will Close April 2, Clearing Path for A’s Ballpark

The Tropicana Las Vegas, the iconic Strip institution that has stood for almost 70 years, will close for demolition on April 2 to make way for the impending $1.5 billion ballpark for the soon-to-be Las Vegas A’s, following the team’s approved relocation from Oakland.

In an internal memo sent to staff on January 29, General Manager Arik Knowles said that the property would soon begin the process of closing out current bookings and working to reschedule future ones.

Bally’s Corp., the parent company of the resort, last year agreed to relinquish the Tropicana for the stadium project with the stipulation that it could develop its own property on the remaining acreage of the 35-acre plot, which is owned by Gaming and Leisure Properties (GLPI). The stadium is only expected to encompass nine of the 35 acres.

News of the memo was first reported by the social media account Las Vegas Locally, and confirmed by the Nevada Independent.

“We understand and appreciate the number of questions many of you have at the time,” Knowles said in the memo. “Please be assured that property leadership is working closely with Bally’s leadership to assist all team members through this transition period.”

Bally’s has not yet submitted a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act letter to the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, which is required by state law for large workplaces. The letter must be filed at least 60 days prior to closure.

The Rat Pack-era casino currently staffs about 700 employees, just under half of which are represented by the Culinary Union Local 226. The property just signed a new five-year contract with the union back in mid-December, but the parties involved knew a closure was imminent.

As far as severance goes, Culinary Secretary-Treasurer Ted Pappageorge told the Independent that union workers will receive $2,000 for every year of work they completed with the property—many have amassed over 20 years of service, he said.

“The company notified the workers that their plan was to close, but there were no dates,” Pappageorge said, per the Independent. “We worked hard through negotiations in December to try to get the right deal for those workers on the table knowing that there’s a closure coming.”

Culinary has already reached an agreement with the A’s to unionize ballpark staff, and Pappageorge indicated that his organization is “in great shape over there.” That being said, the ballpark is not slated for completion until 2028.

With a closure date now in place, the process appears to be stuck in a sort of holding pattern— A’s owner John Fisher indicated to the Independent that he’d like to wait to release new ballpark renderings until Bally’s and GLPI offer their own visions of what the redeveloped zone could look like, in order to “give everyone a better picture of what the redeveloped location would resemble.”

However, the initial reaction from the operators is that they’re waiting for the team to finalize its ballpark design instead.

“The master plan for the site will accelerate once the Athletics’ ballpark concept design is finalized,” Bally’s said in a statement. “The overall development will create energy and vibrancy that previously hasn’t existed on this side of the Strip, adding additional excitement for the sports destination.”

In related news, Fisher also told the Independent that he is open to exploring the possibility of selling minority shares in the team to local Las Vegas investors, in efforts to connect with the community and help lessen the burden of financing the remaining $1.1 billion in capital needed to complete the stadium.

The Vegas Chamber of Commerce held its annual Preview event at the Fontainebleau Las Vegas on January 24, where Fisher gave his first public speaking appearance since the team was approved by Major League Baseball (MLB) to relocate to Las Vegas late last year.

Following the event, Fisher gave an interview to the Independent, in which he said that partnering with local investors “creates another connection to the community.” He  added, “the more we get to know and connect with the community, the greater chance we have for success.”

He alluded to the business success of the Golden State Warriors NBA franchise, which has brought on more than 20 minority owners.

Fisher also confirmed to the Independent that no ownership stakes would be sold to any gaming operators, as MLB team ownership rules would not allow it.

As the son of billionaire Gap founders Donald and Doris Fisher, the A’s owner said that his family has the capital to privately finance the remaining $1.1 billion needed to develop the stadium, but if shares are in fact sold, they would still retain “majority ownership and oversee operations” of the team.

Last summer, Nevada lawmakers held a special legislative session to help secure approval for SB1, a public financing package worth up to $380 million in tax credits and county bonds to help go toward the stadium.

As mentioned, the team released one set of renderings upon announcing the stadium agreement but has since rescinded them. A media event was scheduled for December to unveil a new concept, but was eventually canceled as well.

Last year, A’s President Dave Kaval said that the plan is to have new renderings done by early March, when the A’s play two spring training games against the Milwaukee Brewers at Las Vegas Ballpark, home of the Triple-A affiliate Las Vegas Aviators.

Overall, Fisher denied all rumors that the team may still be looking at other site possibilities, and asserted that he is “excited by the location, we’re meeting with our general contractors and looking forward to moving past this design phase.”

Regardless of how or where, the team is expected to begin its tenure in Las Vegas in the 2028 season. It has already committed to playing in Oakland for one final season in 2024, but it is unclear where it will spend the next three after that. Some early rumors include minor league stadiums in Las Vegas, Sacramento or Salt Lake City, or a potential partnership with the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park.

“The history of the A’s is something we think is to be celebrated,” Fisher told the Independent. “But we want the Athletics to be the Las Vegas Athletics.”