Hockey Costs

Yes, Oakland’s A’s should move – but Vegas shouldn’t pay for it

It’s officially baseball season. And for Oakland fans, the big deal this year isn’t just their roster lost so much depthit’s that the good side of the bay may soon lose yet another professional sports team to the “rough wasteland” just east of California.

It’s like that Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf described Las Vegas as she discussed the ongoing drama over the proposed Oakland Athletics stadium development in California.

While it’s tempting to respond to our city’s mayor’s description of being “gross,” knocking isn’t something Las Vegas does — even if it’s justified. Plus, the mayor’s frustration at potentially losing another sports team is understandable. The Oakland A’s haven’t been so quietly looking for possible sites to build a new stadium in southern Nevada, and if they were to leave, it would be the third team to seek greener pastures in recent years – the second to seek new digs in Vegas.

Unfortunately, the A’s also seem to seek taxpayer subsidies as much as they seek plots of land. The organization’s president, Dave Kaval, said The Nevada Independent in December, they would examine “what type of public-private partnership might be necessary, or be reasonable, that would justify (the site)”.

Of course, it’s not uncommon for millionaire sports moguls to lean on taxpayers when building new toys for their teams — the shiny black Allegiant Stadium on the west side of I-15 is one. obvious example. And Major League Baseball is no different, having long been a willing recipient of political cronyism (in all its forms) from virtually all levels of government.

“America’s pastime” is, apparently, the legislative act of making special deals for politically connected sports leagues — not a ball game played in a park.

Local jurisdictions across the country have disbursed billions of dollars in grants for new stadiums, training facilities and other equipment – with some of these projects end up empty long before public treasuries are “repaid” for their investment. Oakland itself, for example, continues to pay $13 million per year for renovations made to attract what are now the Las Vegas Raiders to the area in the 1990s.

Perhaps the biggest argument against socializing stadium costs through yet another ‘public-private partnership’ isn’t the overwhelming amount of academic research showing it to be a fundamentally flawed economic practice. It may be that such handouts do not guarantee long-term profitable relationships. At the very least, the recent exodus of sports teams from the “bright side of the bay” should serve as a warning to other jurisdictions that truckloads of taxpayers’ money cannot buy the regional loyalty of recipients of such social assistance.

Grants like these, however, help hide some of the problems that make an otherwise unattractive region for sports teams, residents, and businesses — and California certainly has its share of those problems. The latest hiccup in California’s proposed Oakland A stadium, for example, is fairly typical of the regulatory hurdles frustrating so many projects in the Golden State. Indeed, Mayor Schaaf has acknowledged this, pointing out that building anything on the California coastline is inherently going to be administratively more difficult than building something in the “rough desert” of Las Vegas.

However, that may be part of the problem: doing a lot of anything in California has become much more of a headaches than in neighboring states. This is certainly one of the reasons why, despite California’s raw beauty and bountiful resources, hundreds of companies have moved their headquarters and the state ranks among the top of the list for outbound migration – a trend that only accelerated as lockdowns took hold toll on local businesses.

Nevada’s business climate is probably the envy of many Californians – which is why almost 50,000 of them move here every year with tens of thousands of residents from across the United States. In fact, Nevada is considered one of the states seeing the highest in-migration overall – a stark contrast to the Bay Area, which has seen the exact opposite for even the harshest months of a global pandemic.

In other words, grants aside, the Oakland A’s should definitely move their franchise to the famed Las Vegas Strip. (Opening days alone would be a sight to behold.) Even without public money in the mix, Las Vegas offers more development potential and significantly lower regulatory and tax burdens than anywhere on the coast. Californian – not to mention a resort hallway tailor-made for delivering cheering crowds from all over the country, regardless of team level the front office empties the list of players.

Moreover, in a city as entrepreneurial as Las Vegas, it seems there should be plenty of deep pockets willing to invest in such an endeavor, negating the need to rely on public money to build a ballpark. of 30,000 seats. Wealthy Las Vegas Boulevard business interests who could benefit from an MLB game in their backyard would be a natural list of potential investors — no different from how MGM’s T-Mobile Arena became the home of a brand new hockey team with no one going after the taxpayers.

If none of these perks are good enough to woo Kaval and the A’s without some kind of “public-private” social welfare program, then Vegas should be happy to pass up the opportunity and let Schaaf continue to plunder the treasury. of his own city for privatized profits. of a Major League Baseball team. As for this bustling town in the “disgusting” Mojave: we’ll get along just fine without another sports franchise dependent on Oakland’s welfare.

Michael Schaus is a Las Vegas, Nevada-based communications and branding consultant and founder of Schaus Creative LLC – an agency dedicated to helping organizations, businesses, and activists tell their stories and inspire change. He is the former communications director of the Nevada Policy Research Institute and has more than a decade of public affairs commentary experience as a columnist, political comedian and radio talk show host. Follow him at or on Twitter at @schausmichael.