As the Athletics continue their efforts to relocate from Oakland to Las Vegas, Oakland city officials are unimpressed with the progress the team has made so far.
The A's plan to construct a $1.5 billion stadium on at least nine acres of the 35-acre Tropicana site, but there is no set ballpark design for the location, nor is there an indication of whether the ballpark will be domed or have a retractable roof -- of which at least one is necessary for the Las Vegas summer heat.
Where the team will play while their potential new ballpark is being built also remains in question, although there have been rumors about possible temporary housing locations, including the Coliseum. The A's time at the Coliseum expires in December 2024, and extending the lease requires the A's to reach out to the city, something Oakland mayor Sheng Thao said has yet to happen.
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With no set temporary home, no new stadium design and a lot more to still be approved before packing their bags, Leigh Hanson, Thao's chief of staff, is the least bit surprised with how things have played out.
"To see this blow up in Oakland for really no reason and then to hear how little they have in Vegas is mind-blowing," Hanson said in an exclusive interview with ESPN's Tim Keown. "When they said they had a signed deal, a binding deal, I thought, 'Holy s--t, they've been playing us all along.' But then to see this nine-acre parking lot … what? You walked away from us for that? Not to be a jilted lover, but God is she ugly."
While Mayor Thao and the A's tried to work out a plan to bring Howard Terminal to life, she was taken aback by a phone call she received from A's president Dave Kaval back in April.
"Hey, just a heads-up," Thao recalls Kaval saying. "Somebody leaked to the press that we have a binding deal with Vegas."
Thao said the phone call was "a blindside" and came after no further communication between both parties.
A few months later, Kaval and A's owner John Fisher have a lot of questions to answer. The team's initial revenue projections of an annual attendance of 2.5 million in a ballpark that was set to seat 30,000 fans were later revised by Kaval to 33,000.
Keown also notes that the team has hired a construction developer but no architect, while adding, citing an MLB source, that the A's will need to provide answers to all of the lingering questions before the relocation committee can move forward with the team's request.
"It doesn't surprise me that the plan they proposed was half-baked," Thao said. "That's been their track record: half-baked plans."
Meanwhile, Kaval and the A's look at things a bit differently, and Kaval is confident in the way things are going and remains hopeful the potential relocation will benefit both the A's and Las Vegas.
"That's the busiest intersection in the West," Kaval said. "There are more people there -- cars, people, eyeballs. If you go to Vegas, you end up there. And so, it's quintessential Vegas. It's right on The Strip. And so, I think it will, in many ways, be one of the most exciting and iconic locations for a sports venue in the world, because we're there."