Oakland Athletics ownership’s latest head-scratching decision makes drama over Las Vegas stadium funding worse

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Credit: Nick King / USA TODAY NETWORK

A surprise addition to the Oakland Athletics non-relocation agreement with the city of Las Vegas potentially could hurt their chances of getting the funding necessary to build a planned billion-dollar stadium on the Las Vegas strip.

Heading into the MLB games today, the A’s have one of the five worst records in baseball and seemed headed toward another sad losing season. It is all the more disheartening for Oakland fans because it will be the franchise’s last in the city before a three-year stay in Sacramento then a permanent relocation to Las Vegas.

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However, the team must build a stadium for them to relocate to in Nevada and that situation has been bungled as much as talks to build a new venue in Oakland were. Currently, the organization is seeking close to $400 million in public funding for a stadium that is expected to cost as much as $1.5 billion. But securing that funding hasn’t been easy.

Education advocates are fighting the use of Las Vegas tax dollars to help pay for the Athletics’ new stadium. And that fight may have gotten a little harder this week after the reveal of a surprising request in a relocation agreement with the city.

Earlier this week, The Nevada Independent reported that “The Oakland Athletics are requesting to play up to eight home games a season away from the team’s future $1.5 billion Las Vegas ballpark.” Team President David Kaval claims the games at a neutral site may often be less than eight and it is all in an attempt to boost the franchise’s brand recognition.

However, that attempt to improve branding could hurt their chances of landing the $380 million in state funding they are seeking.

“If you eliminate 10 percent of the games that will be played at the stadium, chances are you’re going to eliminate about 10 percent of that bonding capacity,” Stadium Authority Chairman Steve Hill said this week about the current $120 million in capacity.

Jeremy Koo, a Sacramento-based attorney, A’s fan, and an opponent of the team’s move to Las Vegas told the outlet the eight games away from Las Vegas could cost the city $2.6 million to $3 million in incremental tax revenue and as much as $75 million in incremental spending.

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Major League Baseball has allowed other franchises, like the Miami Marlins and Atlanta Braves to host games at neutral sites, however, that was for no more than three games.

This is just the latest chapter in what has been a head-scratching process that will see the Athletics leave their decades-long home for the” entertainment capital of the world.”

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