News - May 29, 2023 - by Ray Hagar
Almost twice as many respondents say they would prefer an expansion Major League Baseball team to come to Las Vegas rather than the Oakland A's, according to a poll of Nevada voters sponsored by Nevada Newsmakers.
However, 50 percent of the respondents said they either had no opinion or were unsure about a preference between the A's and an expansion team.
The Nevada Legislature today will consider a financial package aimed at bringing the A's to Las Vegas and constructing a new stadium on The Strip to house the team.
"You've got some problems with this A's stadium deal," said Chuck Muth, a conservative political campaign consultant from Las Vegas. "One, it's the A's. They've got the worst record in baseball."
State lawmakers today at 4 p.m. are expected to consider and debate a state and Clark County public financing package of as much as $380 million to fund a portion of the construction of a $1.5 billion stadium, according to the Nevada Independent.
The Nevada Newsmakers poll, done by Vote TXT during the week of May 15, showed that 28.78 percent of respondents preferred and expansion team while 15.9 percent preferred the A's.
The poll surveyed 412 Nevada voters.
Fred Lokken, the head of the political science department at Truckee Meadows Community in Reno, also wondered about the A's current organization, even though the A's are one of the most storied teams in baseball, beginning play in the American League in 1901 as the Philadelphia Athletics.
The team stayed in Philly until moving to Kansas City in 1955. The A's moved to Oakland in 1967 under former and colorful owner Charlie Finley. The team has had a boom-or-bust legacy since then.
"Oakland has (done poorly) for years and there is a real question about the owner's support for that team, about being willing to do the payroll and hire a coaching staff in order to have a successful team," Lokken said.
Lokken noted that the professional Las Vegas' Golden Knights hockey team, one of the best teams of the National Hockey League, began as an expansion team in 2017.
"With an expansion team, you get to pick your name and all kinds of things can work out well with that," Lokken said.
Yet there is no guarantee Las Vegas could land an expansion team while getting the A's is nearly a done deal, Muth said.
Nashville, Portland, Ore., Charlotte, N.C., and Montreal have also been seriously mentioned as cities for MLB expansion.
"Is a bird in the hand worth two in the bush?' Muth said. "We can get the A's, let's say, and we might never get the expansion team."
Some Las Vegas baseball fans may be content in watching the current Las Vegas Aviators -- Oakland's AAA farm team -- and wait for an opportunity for an expansion franchise, Muth said.
"They are probably perfectly content to go and see Aviators games," he said.
The A's ownership jumped around from one publicly-announced stadium site to another in Las Vegas during May and that may have shaken public confidence in the franchise, Muth and Lokken said.
"Oakland made a big mistake by changing its mind three times in two weeks," Lokken said. "So the problems they have right now are all self-induced."
Added Muth: "They really botched it."
The A's, however, finally landed on the site of the Tropicana Las Vegas, on the south end of The Las Vegas Strip. Plans call for "The Trop" to be razed and the $1.5 billion ballyard to be built there.
"They are going to blow up the Tropicana and put it there, right on The Strip and some people are saying, 'Wait a minute, as a local, I don't go to The Strip,' " Muth said.
Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom declined comment on the poll question. Assembly Speaker Steven Yeager, D-Las Vegas, did not respond to a written request for comment.