Marin Independent Journal
Giambi favors A's move to Las Vegas
The debate about the future home of the A's was on full display this weekend when the team played two games against the Cincinnati Reds in the first Big League Weekend at Las Vegas Ballpark in Summerlin, Nev.
Current A's starting pitcher Paul Blackburn, an East Bay native, said he'd prefer that the team remain in Oakland. But former A's star Jason Giambi, a longtime Las Vegas resident, is excited about the possibility of the franchise relocating to the city.
“It would be amazing,” said Giambi, who played eight seasons in Oakland and was voted the American League MVP in 2000.
The A's are looking to build a new ballpark to replace their current home, RingCentral Coliseum, which has been deemed inadequate by Major League Baseball and the A's themselves.
The team is working with the city of Oakland on a $12 billion Howard Terminal proposal that would include a 35,000-seat ballpark. They also are looking at three ballpark sites in Las Vegas, where they could relocate to build a retractable roof stadium, estimated to cost $1 billion.
A's manager Mark Kotsay said the relocation talk doesn't impact the team.
“That's not something that we look toward,” Kotsay said Saturday. “Right now, we're in Oakland. That's where we play our home games until something changes. In my mind we're still on parallel paths on being in Oakland or in Vegas.”
Blackburn, an All-Star last season for the A's, said there's no doubt the team needs a new ballpark, and he said he selfishly hopes that ends up happening in Oakland.
“Personally, I grew up in the Bay Area in Oakland, and the A's have been there my whole life,” said Blackburn, an Antioch native who attended Heritage High School in Brentwood. “It's a thing where it would be kind of nice to see the A's stay in Oakland.”
But Giambi, who was interacting with A's players before Saturday's game, said the A's moving to Las Vegas would be a home run, adding that despite Las Vegas' ever-growing pro sports portfolio, there is more than enough fan support to go around.
Saturday's game between the A's and Reds, a 10-9 Cincinnati win, was played before an announced crowd of 8,805. Sunday's game, which Blackburn started, drew 8,024 as Oakland lost 12-4.
This was Oakland's seventh all-time appearance in the Big League Weekend event, with others coming in 1994, 1997, 2000, 2015 and 2020.
“They're dying to support it,” Giambi said of baseball fans in Las Vegas. “You have so many transplants, but I think people want to have a home team. We've turned into a legitimately big city. We're starting to become like L.A. We can support all these teams. I don't see any of them going away any time soon.”
The A's have been researching a move from the Bay Area to Las Vegas for the better part of two years. Team brass, including owner John Fisher and team president Dave Kaval, have made several trips to Southern Nevada during that time.
A's executives have met with resort owners, land owners, politicians and tourism officials to figure out what it would take to move to the area and construct a retractable roof stadium.
Although the A's ballpark happenings have grabbed headlines in Las Vegas and the Bay Area, the team isn't distracted by the ongoing situation, Blackburn said.
“It's been something that's been in talks for the last four or five years,” Blackburn said. “So, it's nothing we sit around and talk about.
“If sometime down the road relocation happens or a new stadium happens, it is what it is. It's going to be the same mentality for us.”
Blackburn, who played for the Las Vegas Aviators in 2019 and 2021, said the local fan support for baseball is great and feels that will carry over if the A's land in the city.
“Every game I felt was packed out and people were into the game,” Blackburn said of Aviators games. “I felt like they knew what was going on. I like when fans are involved in the game.”