Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched. It ain’t over till its over. The show isn’t over until the fat lady sings. We have lots of ways to get the same message across, so pick the one you like best because today there is a report at CBSSports.com saying that there just might be a glitch in the mechanism that would allow the Oakland A’s to become the Las Vegas A’s. The headline on the report seems innocuous enough:
“Oakland to Las Vegas: A’s move could be held up over request for nearly $400M in public funding, per report”
According to this report, the A’s originally asked Las Vegas for $500M in “aid” to build a stadium in Las Vegas and that number has been reduced to $400M somehow or someway. The current “plan” is for the stadium to be on The Strip at or near the Tropicana and evidently that site needs the $400M contribution from the folks who run either Las Vegas or Clark County or both.
Here is the “issue” in a nutshell according to The Nevada Independent:
“Nevada lawmakers have not yet introduced legislation to bring the Oakland A’s to Las Vegas because they are only willing to contribute up to $195 million in transferable tax credits for stadium construction funding, not the full $395 million the team is seeking, sources close to negotiations told The Nevada Independent Thursday.
“The amount the state will offer depends on how much money Clark County will offer in the form of county-issued bonds paid by taxes generated on the ballpark site. Sources added that lawmakers are discussing between $150 million and $195 million in transferable tax credits, but nothing is set in stone until the county details are finalized.
If you think you have heard this song before, that is because you have heard this song before. However, this time I want to point out that there might be a couple of good reasons for the A’s owners and MLB to reduce the ask from wherever it is that the A’s will play on a long-term basis. Consider these stats:
- The A’s just completed a 7-game home stand.
- The biggest attendance they drew for that home stand was 8,230 folks.
- Two of the seven games drew fewer than 3,000 fans.
- Total attendance for these 7 games was 35,031 or 5,004 fans per game.
- For the entire 2023 season the A’s average attendance is only 8,695 fans per game.
Those numbers tell me that the A’s must be losing money even if they have a stripped-down payroll in the neighborhood of $50M. The A’s need a new home; it could be in Oakland in a new stadium; it could be in Las Vegas in a new stadium; it could be anywhere in the Mountain or Pacific Time Zones where there is a proper facility. The only certainty is that it cannot be in whatever it is that they are calling the Oakland Coliseum these days. So, maybe it is time for the owners to dig into their pockets and get something done to move the team because even if they get a deal done with Las Vegas today, the financial bleeding will not stop until at least 2027 because:
- The A’s lease for the Coliseum runs through the 2024 season; they are stuck there.
- The probability that the A’s would try to extend that lease and that the folks in Oakland would agree is next to nil.
- The putative Las Vegas stadium would not be ready until the start of the 2027 season.
- So, the A’s might have to play their home games in Las Vegas at the ballpark currently serving as the home to the A’s AAA minor league team.
- That stadium has 8200 seats and a capacity of 10,000.
- So, even a Las Vegas move would entail at least 3 more years of abysmal attendance translating to limited revenue.
Here is a little back or the envelope math:
- If the A’s played in the minor league park and sold out EVERY home game at an average ticket price of $50, they would generate about $40M in ticket revenue.
- That does not match the stripped-down player payroll for this year and does not account for a single “overhead expense” such as “travel costs”.
At some point there will be a need for the A’s owners to stop the bleeding. Maybe that is why the folks in Las Vegas and in Nevada have been tightening the screws on this deal when they behaved very differently in their pursuit of the NFL’s Raiders…
Finally, these words from Hippocrates seem applicable here:
“And if there be an opportunity of serving one who is a stranger in financial straits, give full assistance to all such.”
The A’s owners probably hope the good folks in Nevada will heed these words.
The folks in Nevada probably think the A’s are in “financial straits” and that gives the Nevadans leverage. And we should recognize the power of leverage from the words of Archimedes:
“Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………