Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019 | 2 a.m.
If Southern Nevada eventually woos a Major League Baseball franchise, a longtime Las Vegas baseball man doubts it will be the Oakland Athletics.
Following MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred’s public warning earlier this month that Oakland could lose its club to Las Vegas if a deal for a new ballpark isn’t worked out, Don Logan, president of the Las Vegas Aviators, said he’s skeptical the A’s will leave Oakland.
“I know the A’s are 110% committed to trying to find a stadium solution in the East Bay,” Logan said. “I just don’t think there’s anything to all this. I think it’s speculative.”
Logan is someone who might have an inkling about the mindset of the A’s organization. The Aviators are Oakland’s Triple-A minor league affiliate.
It’s been known for years that the A’s ballpark situation — they play in the dated and baseball-unfriendly Oakland Coliseum — is one of the worst in the league and that the team could move if no local solution is found. Las Vegas landed squarely in the middle of the conversation.
Earlier this month, Manfred met with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and mentioned Las Vegas “in the context of pointing out that the A’s might have to relocate if a new stadium can’t be built in Oakland,” according to a statement from the league. The Raiders, who also play at the Coliseum, are moving into a new stadium in Las Vegas next season.
There is, however, no plan right now for the A’s to move to Las Vegas, Manfred said in the statement.
“If it becomes necessary to consider relocation, there will be a formal process that will consider all potential relocation sites,” he said.
Manfred’s comments came a few months after Henderson officials said the city last year quietly talked to the Arizona Diamondbacks about the possibility of the team moving to Nevada’s second-largest city to play in a new ballpark.
Nothing came of the talks, but Henderson spokeswoman Kathleen Richards said the city hasn’t tabled the idea of trying to lure a team.
“The city of Henderson is open to discussion with any professional team that may be looking to relocate,” Richards said in a statement. “We offer attractive demographics, large tracts of undeveloped land, synergy with other sports teams and a great regionally accessible location.”
With the success of the NHL’s Golden Knights, the arrival of the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces and the NFL’s Raiders preparing to take the field next year at a new stadium behind the Strip, Las Vegas has almost overnight become a pro sports town.
“What’s leading to this discussion is what’s going on in our market,” said Logan, who started working for the minor league franchise formerly known as the Las Vegas 51s in 1984. “The Golden Knights come in and just take the world by storm and you have the NFL coming, so Las Vegas went from zero to 60 from a major league sports perspective. It’s natural.”
Logan said he recently met with a group of concert promoters from the East Coast who were buzzing about the NBA eventually putting a team in Las Vegas.
“I haven’t heard that, but everybody kind of assumes that’s coming,” Logan said. “It would make sense that Major League Baseball would be talked about, too.”
Other cities that have been talked about as possible landing spots for an MLB team include Portland, Ore., Montreal and Nashville, Tenn.
John McIsaac, communications director for the Portland Diamond Project, which is trying to bring a pro baseball team to the city, said he wasn’t surprised to hear Manfred name-drop Las Vegas as a possible landing spot for the A’s.
With the Raiders set to move to Las Vegas, it’s only logical to think it’s possible the A’s could follow, he said.
“If we’re talking expansion, (Manfred) would want one team in the East and one in the West,” McIsaac said. “Here on the West Coast, I think Las Vegas would be our only real competition.”
At the minor league level, baseball has already proven to be a home run in Las Vegas.
The Aviators debuted the $150 million Las Vegas Ballpark in Summerlin this year and averaged more than 9,000 fans per game.
Could the facility be expanded to accommodate an MLB club?
“There’s an old saying — my uncle used to say this — that there isn’t anything time and money can’t fix,” Logan said.