Will MLB and MLS beat the NBA to Las Vegas?

The Oakland A’s are officially leveraging Las Vegas to get public money from the city of Oakland. MLB announced earlier this week that the A’s were free to explore relocation because they were struggling to build a new ball park in Oakland. 

The A’s are promising to privately fund a mixed-use development that would cost $12 billion (only $1 billion of that would be for the actual ball park). But the A’s want $855 million in infrastructure costs to be paid for with public money. 

You can read more about how the A’s want to get $855 million here. 

As most professional teams that declare they are looking to relocate, the A’s would prefer to stay in Oakland. But they think the need a new ball park to do so. And their current plan to get public money has not worked. 

So Las Vegas is leverage. 

But as we saw with the Raiders. Teams in Oakland have a strong desire to get out of the Coliseum. And the city of Oakland is unwilling to give up tax dollars for sports stadiums. 

Eventually, the A’s could end up moving to Las Vegas. Especially if someone like Carolyn Goodman or Debra March can promise them hundreds of millions of dollars to help build a new park. 

Las Vegas mayor Carolyn Goodman told the Review Journal that she has had conversations with the A’s about moving to downtown Las Vegas since 2019. Goodman has a track record of failing to secure professional sports teams, despite always clamoring for them. 

The city of Henderson has not been shy in handing out public money for sports teams. The Henderson Silver Knights got $40 million to help build their new arena. The city gave the Raiders a $6 million discount on the land they bought to build their practice facility. 

Does Henderson have a way to come up with $855 million? That is a massive jump from the tens of millions they have handed out. 

Major League Baseball is not the only sport possibly moving to Vegas. Bill Foley told the Review Journal that he is still interested in bringing MLS to Vegas. And that an MLB team would not deter him. 

“MLS has a different fan base,” Foley said. “MLS would be very successful here. I mean, we’ve been playing with it for a long time. Trying to figure it out and trying to understand where an arena could be built and be convenient. We’re working on that and we have a number of interested partners who own European soccer teams that would like to partner with us on a MLS team.”

Will Foley be able to land an MLS team? He will likely have to build his own stadium. Or move into Allegiant Stadium, but he would not control the revenue streams, Mark Davis and the Raiders would. 

But like MLB, MLS moving to Vegas is possible, which could leave the NBA on the outside looking in. 

Las Vegas is considered the favorite to land a second expansion franchise, behind Seattle, if (when?) the NBA decides to add teams. 

But with the Raiders and Golden Knights already calling Vegas home, the addition of baseball and soccer could crowd the NBA out of the market. 

If all five of the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and MLS added a team to Vegas at the same time, the NBA would likely be the second most popular. But as we have seen with the Golden Knights, getting here first (and winning) can vault a sport to top of this city’s popularity rankings. 

With the Raiders and NFL atop the hierarchy (even if they don’t win), the Knights having already carved out a massive, passionate fan base and the potential for MLB or MLS to do the same, the NBA could find itself buried in Vegas. 

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