Mayor: American League baseball team looking at Las Vegas
By Dave Toplikar (contact)
Published Thursday, Aug. 19, 2010 | 12:02 p.m.
Updated Thursday, Aug. 19, 2010 | 1:32 p.m.
Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman was a little more forthcoming today about talks he's been having with a professional team about building a sports facility in downtown Las Vegas.
Yes, it's Major League Baseball. Yes, Las Vegas is an American League city. Yes, they'd be looking at a domed stadium.
But no, he's not saying which team is talking to him. And no, he's not saying exactly where such a 45,000-seat stadium would be built — except that it would be on existing city-owned property.
"We've had two meetings," Goodman told reporters after his weekly press conference at city hall, flashing a smile and holding up two fingers.
What's the next step for baseball?
"I'm waiting to hear from a gentleman as to what team I'm supposed to be speaking with," Goodman said.
The mayor first gave hints last week that a MLB franchise was looking at the city. However, at that time, he said he wasn't at liberty to say which sport, which team and what kind of a facility would be built.
But this week he wasn't playing his cards as close to the vest, or perhaps chest protector would be the better analogy.
Earlier in his press conference, the mayor for the first time said he had met this week with a representative of a major league baseball team.
"On Monday we had a meeting regarding the potential, as I indicated before, of building a baseball stadium," he said. "And those discussions are now ongoing and I'm not going to tell you that it's imminent, but I'm going to tell you that the people who are participating in the discussions are very serious about seeing that happen."
Later, during a question-response session, Goodman opened up with a few more details.
He said he couldn't say much "other than the fact that we're talking about communications with a major league team to see whether or not we can get an assurance from a major league team that they will come here if, in fact, a stadium is built.
"And we're also exploring the potential of funding for the stadium. And those are the two areas that we're engaged in right now."
Asked if he could say what MLB league the team is from, Goodman said "Absolutely not."
"I can tell you this. I can tell you I've been advised that we are designated as an American League city," he said. "So, folks, if we get ourselves a team here, if it's not the Yankees or White Sox or the Red Sox, all of those folks will be able to visit us from those cities and fill the stadium."
Although the mayor didn't mention teams, one possibility could be the Oakland A's. The Washington Post reported more than a year ago that the A's wanted to leave Oakland and ESPN has reported the A's have been wanting a new stadium.
Summertime temperatures in Las Vegas often top 110 degrees. So the mayor indicated that any new stadium built in Las Vegas would need to be a climate-controlled enclosed facility.
"It has to be domed," Goodman said. "They tell us that, the modern stadium, they'd rather have a 45,000-seat facility rather than a 60,000-seat facility and fill the 45,000 rather than have 45,000 people come there and have 15,000 extra seats."
Asked about possible locations, the mayor said "Not telling."
Asked if Cashman Stadium, the home of the Las Vegas 51s, was one of them, Goodman said "Not telling," getting laughs.
However, he did acknowledge that the location was on city-owned property.
"That's what we're discussing right now," he said.
Asked if it might be a land swap, he said "No, not necessarily."
Goodman indicated he was hoping to bring a professional sports team to Las Vegas before term limits require him to leave his mayoral post next year.
"I make no bones about it. As I said, there are three things I wanted to accomplish as the mayor," he said.
One was to bring academic medicine, which is being accomplished now at the Cleveland Clinic's Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. A second goal was to bring culture, which is being accomplished with the Smith Center for Performing Arts being built in Symphony Park, he said.
The third has been to bring a professional sports team to Las Vegas.
"We'll never be a major league city unless we have a major league team," Goodman said. "I'm hoping I'm successful at least in getting the discussions in place so whoever my successor is will be able to follow through and get it done.
"I was hoping I could have thrown out the first pitch, but I said that 11 and a half years ago," he said.