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Goodman invites Oakland mayor to a Raiders game in war of words

Updated April 8, 2022 - 7:42 am

Facing the potential loss of a third professional sports team in three years, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf came out swinging this week when she called Las Vegas a “gross desert.”

She was referring to the possible move by the Oakland A’s, who have been flirting with making Las Vegas their home even as Oakland officials try to build a waterfront ballpark and persuade the team to stay the Bay Area.

“You’ve got to be much more environmentally focused when you are developing on the precious California coastline than in the gross desert of Las Vegas,” Schaaf told KGO-TV on Wednesday.

The phrase “gross desert” on Thursday prompted outrage and sarcasm.

Schaaf’s counterpart here, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, responded with a not-so-subtle jab at Schaaf, whose city already has lost the Raiders to Las Vegas in 2020 and the Golden State Warriors to San Francisco in 2019.

“The beautiful @CityOfLasVegas is a world leader in sustainability & top destination,” Goodman wrote. “@LibbySchaaf please join the more than 42 million visitors a year and enjoy a trip to Las Vegas. We can go to a @Raiders game.”

Schaaf responded on Twitter that she respected mayors who defend their cities but wrote that she couldn’t “apologize for preferring our gorgeous California coastline over a sweltering desert.”

Clark County Commissioner Michael Naft issued an invitation for Schaaf to visit so he could “better inform” her about Las Vegas. He called Schaaf’s comment “ignorant and elitist” and said it “may be one reason why so many people, companies and teams want to get the heck out of your jurisdiction.”

This wasn’t the first time Schaaf criticized Las Vegas, often referring to the city’s oppressive summer heat, but her choice of words this time didn’t sit well with other Las Vegans, either.

“Thank you Mayor Goodman for standing up for Las Vegas,” David Sheleheda tweeted. “As a native Las Vegan, I love our desert and our growing pro sports scene. I imagine the 43 million annual visitors do too. Now its time to vocally go after the #LasVegasAthletics.”

Wrote Clinton Pope: “As someone who lived in both the Bay Area and Las Vegas, Oakland might be one of the ugliest cities on the west coast. Vegas may not be Santa Barbara but it sure beats Oakland every day of the week & twice on opening day … btw my avatar picture is me 10 minutes from my LV house.”

A’s officials have made multiple trips to Las Vegas to scout locations and meet with officials.

They are considering five sites, and A’s President Dave Kaval said last week their preferred location for a possible $1 billion stadium could be announced next month.

He has not announced how a stadium would be paid, and Gov. Steve Sisolak has said repeatedly that public money would not be used to help fund the project.

But Sisolak struck an optimistic tone Monday about the Athletics’ potential move to Las Vegas, telling KWWN radio, 1100 AM, that he and Kaval had a detailed talk Sunday.

“We had quite a conversation about a couple sites that they’re still seriously considering,” Sisolak said. “We went over the pluses and minuses and the obstacles and benefits of the various sites they’re looking at. I talked to the commissioner (Rob Manfred) a couple weeks back about Major League Baseball’s desire to move into Las Vegas. So there’s a lot more movement than I think a couple months ago.”

The A’s also are working on $12 billion project in Oakland that includes a stadium at the Howard Terminal site. That effort has faced three recent setbacks.

East Oakland Stadium Alliance filed a lawsuit against the A’s and Oakland under the California Environmental Quality Act. The Seaport Advisory Council voted against ending maritime use at Howard Terminal, and Oakland City Council member Carroll Fife is pushing a vote by the public, which the A’s oppose.

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.

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