A’s move to the Las Vegas Strip has become much more likely

Ever since the National Hockey League’s Golden Knights started playing on the Las Vegas Strip, nestled between several MGM Resorts International (MGM) – Get the MGM Resorts International Report properties, Sin City has become a bargaining chip for any team in other major sports looking for a better stadium/arena deal.

This is especially true for California-based teams, as Las Vegas is an easy flight and not too bad of a drive depending on where you live. The former Oakland Raiders of the National Football League (NFL) used Las Vegas’s interest in building a stadium for the team to take advantage of a better offer from Oakland.

Since this city was unwilling/unable to financially compete with what Las Vegas had to offer, the team had to “reluctantly” make the move. Realistically, Raiders owner Marc Davis, one of the poorest owners in the NFL, probably never intended to stay in Oakland because Las Vegas‘ deep pockets and the presence of casinos with money to throw away just made moving too attractive.

Now, Sin City is always mentioned when a National Basketball Association (NBA) team needs a new arena (although it has also been mentioned as the potential home of an expansion team). It was also a target destination for another team that called Oakland home, Major League Baseball’s Oakland Athletics.

The A’s need a new stadium and Oakland wouldn’t spend the money to build one. This led to the team not only flirting with Las Vegas, but also embarking on a relationship with the city. Oakland’s latest major professional sports franchise has scouted several venues both on and off the Strip and looks set to close a deal.

Now, MLB has removed a roadblock to completing one of those deals that could have caused the team to at least consider Oakland’s offer (if a genuine offer were made.)

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Major League Baseball waives key fee for A’s

The A’s by the end of May had narrowed their search to about two sites on the Las Vegas Strip. In one scenario, the team would build a stadium themselves. In the other, it would partner with a casino operator (likely gaming and leisure properties (GLPI) – Get the report from Gaming and Leisure Properties Inc.but probably not MGM or Caesars Entertainment (CZR) – Get the report from Caesars Entertainment Inc.the two biggest players on the Strip, the Las Vegas Sun reported).

When a team changes cities, Major League Baseball typically charges a moving fee. In this case, the league has decided not to charge the A’s if they decide to move, according to a Las Vegas Journal Review story.

“The costs vary on a case-by-case basis, but it is estimated that the costs would be in the range of hundreds of millions of dollars. The Raiders’ relocation costs charged by the NFL were $378 million when they moved to Las Vegas in 2020. Golden Knights owner Bill Foley paid the NHL a $500 million expansion fee to land the team in Las Vegas. Expansion fees tend to be higher than the moving expenses,” the newspaper reported.

MLB probably wants a team in Las Vegas

Not having to pay a moving fee suggests the league either wants the team to move to Las Vegas or thinks Oakland hasn’t given it a good reason to consider staying. Oakland is also considered a small market, while Las Vegas is both larger in terms of potential local TV audience and is also a global city.

Having a team in Las Vegas puts MLB in front of visitors from around the world. It also brings the league to a place full of high rollers, brimming with referral dollars, as all the major casino operators want to both attract tourists to their properties and attract users for sports betting apps.

Major League Baseball waiving moving fees is essentially how the league welcomes Las Vegas to the league. It may take a few more months for a real deal to be done, but betting on Las Vegas athletics being a thing soon enough is pretty safe money.

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