It has been a quiet few days for the Oakland Athletics, with little news around the team since the conclusion of the Winter Meetings last week. In terms of off-field news, one major piece of the relocation puzzle left is the absence of any ballpark renderings for the Las Vegas site.
John Fisher was scheduled to reveal their updated renderings two weeks prior, but the event was postponed due to unforeseen circumstances. The Athletics mentioned on their Twitter account that they would reschedule the reveal but as of today, we don't have a set date for it.
Many Athletics fans, as well as people in the Las Vegas community, are deeply interested to see how Fisher plans to fit a ballpark on a site so small. We've mentioned this here at White Cleat Beat previously, but the plot of land the Athletics currently have in Las Vegas is roughly 9 acres. The smallest plot of land holding an MLB ballpark is in Milwaukee, which sits on just over 12 acres.
The Athletics will likely need to put a roof on the new stadium, as it's unrealistic to think the team can play in an outdoor stadium in the desert heat during the summer. It has been reported that the cost of a retractable roof will add something in the neighborhood of $100 million onto the total bill for the stadium.
A retractable roof will take up more space than a fixed dome would, however, which brings us back to the question of how the Athletics plan to fit a ballpark into the requisite space provided. It's unclear whether the A's would be able to secure a larger plot of land at the Tropicana site in Vegas. The hotel currently sits on a 35-acre plot, but the A's are locked into a small portion of the space.
Many Athletics fans have speculated that part of the reason why Fisher and the team haven't provided any updated ballpark renderings is because the project doesn't fit on the land that they have.
We only recently got word, when the Athletics initially announced their rendering reveal, who the architect for the project is. Bjarke Ingels, of the Bjarke Ingels Group, is reportedly the architect responsible for the project.
He has designed many structures around the world, including a number in the US. His structures are known for their modern style, so it'll be interesting to see how the upcoming design fits within the style of other buildings in Las Vegas.
The stadium itself was reportedly set to be built for 33,000 seats, which would be the smallest park in MLB. Cleveland's Progressive Field is currently the smallest stadium, coming in at just under 35,000 seats. In total, there are only six stadiums with a capacity under 40,000.
Per team President Dave Kaval, a big part of the Athletics' plans to fill the seats on a nightly basis is through tourism. The team expects nearly 8,000 out-of-town fans per game in order to hit their revenue and ticket sale projections.
An interesting note from Sunday's NFL matchup between the Minnesota Vikings and the Las Vegas Raiders - there were videos going around the internet showing how Minnesota fans had taken over Allegiant Stadium in Vegas, basically eliminating the Raiders' homefield advantage.
While that might be good for owner Mark Davis on account of the seats getting filled, it's an interesting problem for the players who find themselves playing what amounts to an away game in their home stadium.
By their stated design, that's the kind of environment Fisher and Kaval want to build for the Las Vegas Athletics. A home stadium filled with fans of visiting teams. A team reliant on the revenues of tourists who care more about their team's success than that of the Athletics. How do you build a fanbase around that?
Can you build a generational fanbase when your stadium is constantly filled with fans of the opposing team? Based on their current level of commitment to the on-field product, can they ever expect to draw a respectable number of fans to the stadium, or build interest within the community?
It's extremely sad to see how John Fisher has run this organization into the ground the past few years, all while trying to find the quickest ride out of town. He's trying to escape to a place that doesn't even have a stadium built for them. We don't even know what the stadium is supposed to look like. So, Athletics fans will wait to see the new ballpark renderings, but nobody in Oakland is holding their breath with high expectations.