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A’s study shows Las Vegas would be MLB hit

If the Oakland Athletics’ market feasibility study is any indicator, Las Vegas would be a big hit on the Major League Baseball scene.

The A’s tapped CSL International marketing group, recently acquired by Legends Hospitality, to carry out its market study. The group surveyed 17,151 people, including Southern Nevada residents, tourists, A’s season ticket holders and fans of other teams in MLB’s American League West division and determined there was significant interest in the Las Vegas market.

“It shows people are paying attention to this story (and) are really interested in the A’s being in Southern Nevada, which is super positive for us to hear,” A’s President Dave Kaval told the Review-Journal. “The results about attending games and prices and wanting to support the team, both for locals and tourists, was higher than our expectations. It further demonstrates the strength of Las Vegas as a sporting market.”

The survey noted the A’s were looking to potentially build a ballpark located in the Resort Corridor, but included questions gauging how fan interest would be impacted if it were built off-Strip. Those results, according to Ben Wrigley, chief operating officer for CSL, showed that it didn’t have much impact, if any, on the interest level of those surveyed.

Kaval said that is great news as it means the A’s are not limited to looking at just one area for a ballpark.

“I think that’s a great sign. It just shows that there’s a lot of options in terms of location and that there could be a winning location in a variety of spots,” Kaval said. “That’s what we’re focused on now… getting a finalist and getting an agreement in place as soon as we can.”

Kaval wouldn’t confirm reports that the A’s have put in a bid on the Tropicana Hotel site, but said the organization is looking to strike a deal with multiple sites in play.

“We’re still in active negotiations with a handful of sites and we’re making really great progress,” Kaval said. “We hope to have a site identified, purchased and partnered with as soon as possible because obviously it shows our interest in the marketplace and it allows us to continue to move the process forward in an effective way.”

Wherever a possible stadium might end up in Las Vegas, survey respondents heavily favored having a retractable roof to deal with the torrid summer weather.

Locals vs. tourists

Local residents displayed overwhelmingly positive responses to the possibility of the A’s relocating to Las Vegas. Responses indicate there is high interest from locals to purchase season tickets, with both local companies and residents intrigued by having a variety of premium seat offerings.

Wrigley, who also played a role in the Raiders market feasibility study, noted that 87 percent of locals surveyed said they had some level of interest in purchasing some form of season tickets, whether it be full, half or quarter season packages. Of those who didn’t express interest in season tickets, 85 percent said they would consider buying single game tickets, Wrigley noted.

Non-resident respondents said they would strongly consider going to an A’s game during a trip to Las Vegas.

Fans in markets of A’s AL West opponents revealed a high level of interest in MLB ending up in Las Vegas, with 78 percent of those surveyed showing some level of interest in the possibility.

Half of those respondents said they already travel to Las Vegas at least once annually. On top of that, those fans said they would add other trips to Southern Nevada to attend ball games.

“You had that those who were showing interest said that they would attend almost three games per season (in Las Vegas),” Wrigley said. “The question we were really asking was if you’re going to come, are you going to come for a series or are you going to come at multiple times? The preference among that group of individuals was to attend those games but to actually do those games throughout the season, versus just coming and staying for three games over a Friday, Saturday and Sunday.”

The corporate sector was equally excited about a possible A’s move to Southern Nevada, showing overwhelmingly positive response to the possibility.

“They (corporations) essentially looked at it and said this would be good for Las Vegas. It just continues to either raise or enhance the high profile that the city already has,” Wrigley said. “It’s a nice addition in the sense that the sport now is something that compliments the Knights and the Raiders, because it’s predominantly played in the summer time.”

Parallel path

The A’s are continuing to work with the city of Oakland and Alameda County officials on a possible $12 billion mixed use project that would be centered around a $1 billion waterfront stadium.

The final environmental impact report for a site at the Port of Oakland’s Howard Terminal is set to be released Friday.

“That’s an important step in the process on our other parallel path,” Kaval said. “We still need to get a final, binding vote (from city officials), which we don’t really know the timing of that yet. That’s something that is still out there and is a question mark. But that process is unfolding as well.”

Last week, Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber said Las Vegas is the favorite to land the league’s 30th club, potentially giving Southern Nevada yet another pro sports team. Kaval said that wouldn’t have any bearing on the A’s exploration of the Las Vegas Valley.

“We’re really focused on our process,” Kaval said. “If other sports come to Southern Nevada I think that’s a positive. It creates more sports fans and more excitement.”

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

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