A’s reveal new renderings for stadium on the Las Vegas Strip

Courtesy Oakland A's
The renderings of the Las Vegas stadium for the Oakland A's look impressive. But questions remain about financing and building it.

LAS VEGAS — On Tuesday, something magical surfaced. A series of renderings of what a Las Vegas Athletics ballpark would look like.

One glance of the renderings immediately brought to mind the Sydney Opera House in Australia, as iconic a structure as you’ll find on the planet. And even though A’s owner John Fisher likened it to an armadillo, I was left thinking “When will Placido Domingo be performing?” Maybe between games of a day-night doubleheader with the Cleveland Guardians?

And to be honest, the last time I thought of an armadillo, it was when Scott Bakula, Sinbad, Hector Elizondo and Kathy Ireland were on the Texas State Fightin’ Armadillos in the 1991 sports comedy movie “Necessary Roughness.” But nice try, John.

Upon further and closer review, the architects or AI renderers, take your pick, forgot to put lights in the ballpark, which is scheduled to open in 2028 at a presumed cost of $1.5 billion and have 33,000 seats. Maybe it will be a throwback to the original Wrigley Field but I’d like to think there’ll be lights with this stadium.

Yeah, the 18,000 square-foot right-field scoreboard/videoboard looks cool. The huge glass window could be awesome. The plaza to get into the ballpark could be nice even if there is no place to grab something to eat or drink before you get your ticket scanned at the turnstiles. And the view of the Las Vegas Strip could be potentially impressive.

But there are questions and I have plenty of ‘em.

Let’s start with Fisher coming up with the dough to pay for this. His share of the cost is $1.1 billion, give or take a few million dollars. So far, he has yet to announce that the financing has been secured for his end of the deal. 

The fact that he is seeking minority investors is a huge red flag to me. It makes me wonder if he truly has the financial wherewithal to pull this off.

As for the actual ballpark site, is this really going to fit on nine acres? It doesn’t seem possible. Those shells which will comprise the fixed translucent roof are going to be massive to build and I’m having a hard time believing it fits in the $1.5 billion budgeted for the project. Yes, I know $1.5 billion is a lot of money but we’re talking a pretty substantially-sized structure here, one with unique designs and challenges to it. 

There’s supposed to be parking for 2,500 cars. Really? Guess you’ll likely have to be a suite-holder in order to park. But that’s a minor issue given we locals knew parking wasn’t going to be a viable option once the A’s settled on the Tropicana site. 

You want to drive to the game? Plan to park at the MGM Grand garage or at the Aria garage or the Excalbur garage at a jacked-up fee. 

Will the Federal Aviation Administration, which helps oversee Harry Reid International Airport, sign off on this? Could the ballpark be in the way of flight patterns, much the way the proposed UNLV on-campus football stadium was deemed to be several years ago when that project was being proposed?

I’ll give the Bjarke Ingles Group credit for designing something that’s not your run-of-the-mill baseball facility. Potentially, this could be a great place to watch a game. The renderings do look pretty amazing.

But it’s one thing to draw something up in an architect’s office. It’s quite another to build it and keep it within budget. What happens if and when there are cost overruns? Where’s Fisher getting the extra money to pay for it since the A’s will be on the hook for anything extra. And what happens if somehow that lawsuit by the group of Nevada Teachers to block the $380 million Clark County had approved to help build the stadium gets ruled in their favor on appeal by the Nevada Supreme Court? What if it goes to a ballot referendum and the voters of Southern Nevada reject it? Does it put the project in jeopardy?

Perhaps we’ll get some answers this weekend when the A’s come to town to play the Brewers Friday and Saturday at Las Vegas Ballpark for the city’s annual “Big League Weekend.” Will Fisher talk? He might, now that he has something somewhat tangible to talk about. We’ll see.

I’ll say it once again — I am not against Major League Baseball coming to Las Vegas. I would love to see it happen. But can you honestly say the A’s have done this the right way? Especially when there are still several hurdles to clear? 

Sorry, but I remain skeptical. Perhaps in the end Fisher and president Dave Kaval will prove me wrong. Maybe the ballpark gets built on time and on budget. Maybe Fisher invests in the on-the-field product and puts a competitive team out there come 2028. Maybe it turns out to be the home run the proponents of the A’s Oakland-to-Vegas move swear it will. 

That’s a lot of maybes. 

So good luck with building that armadillo stadium, John. And when you spot a real armadillo in Vegas, let me know.