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Elephant Rumblings: Weekend Vegas visit puts potential move in spotlight

MLB news roundup

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MLB: Spring Training-Oakland Athletics at San Diego Padres Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Monday, Athletics Nation!

The’s A’s lost in Vegas over the weekend—three games in just two days, with just one tie against the Reds on Saturday to prevent the team from being completely swept in the split squad bonanza. That’s okay; the outcome of these games means little while individual performances mean everything. That’s how Spring Training works.

The bigger question is whether the A’s will be lost to Las Vegas if the City of Oakland can’t shore up hundreds of millions in infrastructure funds to clear the way for a new ballpark at Howard Terminal. Per John Shea at the San Francisco Chronicle, city and business leaders in Vegas are sounding increasingly bullish about getting the A’s to move there.

Shea’s piece includes a number of statements from casino owner Derek Stevens, who is vociferously promoting the idea that conditions are ripe for an MLB franchise to flourish in Sin City. Stevens says there is “absolutely no question Major League Baseball can work in Las Vegas,” citing a number of positive factors, including lower hotel fares during the summer months, die-hard fans who travel with their favorite teams, and the viability of attractive sites like the Vegas Festival Grounds on the Strip.

One factor seemingly at odds with Las Vegas has been the lack of any specific advocacy for taxpayer support from government officials. A’s owner John Fisher wants public dollars in excess of what the City of Oakland has thus committed to providing—but why would he be eager to move if Las Vegas won’t promise to bridge a similar gap?

However, statements were made over the weekend that may signal a shift towards more willingness to subsidize a new ballpark in Las Vegas. Clark County Commission Chairman Jim Gibson told The Chronicle that while “the governor has said no new taxes ... that doesn’t mean there aren’t public revenues available.” Gibson appeared ready to lobby state officials for some gift akin to the $750 million that Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis received for a new stadium.

Vegas resident and former A’s first baseman Jason Giambi was also quoted in the piece, in which he expressed sympathy for beleaguered Oakland fans alongside resignation that the city just isn’t willing to do what it will take to keep the A’s. Giambi is confident that an MLB team can thrive in the “wild, wild west” of Las Vegas.

My take? This is exhausting. Someone pony up the decisive sum already and bring this saga to a conclusion. I really hope the A’s stay in Oakland, but I’m far too weary of all these protracted wranglings to know what to expect anymore. How about you?

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