Rio Back in Play as Potential Site of Las Vegas Baseball Stadium

Long-running rumors about the Rio Hotel & Casino Las Vegas potentially becoming the site of a Major League Baseball (MLB) stadium resurfaced, adding a third venue to the list of candidates that eventually may be the home ballpark of the Athletics, currently of Oakland.

Rio All-Suite Hotel
An exterior shot of the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino Las Vegas. It’s back under consideration as a baseball stadium site. (Image: Caesars Entertainment)

Citing an unidentified source with knowledge of the matter, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported earlier today that the A’s are mulling the land on which Rio resides as a possible site of a new $1 billion stadium. Speculation to that effect is several years old, though recently died down as Tropicana and the Las Vegas Fair Grounds next to Circus Circus took center stage as potential stadium sites.

As would be the case with Tropicana, erecting a stadium on the land which Rio resides would require demolishing the casino-resort. By way of a December 2019  $516.3 million sale-leaseback transaction, Caesars Entertainment operates the gaming venue while Dreamscape Companies owns the real estate.

Speaking of Dreamscape and Rio…

The timing of the Review-Journal’s article is interesting because it emerged just a day after New York-based Dreamscape said it raised $850 million in new financing, some of which the real estate investment trust (REIT) said will be allocated to sprucing up Rio.

Additionally, the real estate developer announced the formation of two new entities — one dedicated to owning experiential properties, including gaming venues, and another that could directly own and operate casinos.

Given that those are Dreamscape’s ambitions and that Rio is currently the only gaming property in its portfolio, the company may not be in a hurry to sell the Strip venue. Then again, money talks and the land is likely worth more today than what Dreamscape paid for it in 2019.

Should the A’s formally announce a move to Las Vegas and select Rio as the site of a new stadium, the team would acquire the property from Dreamscape with the REIT likely providing some compensation to Caesars. For the gaming company, it could be a win-win because it’d receive some cash with which to reduce debt while eliminating a lower-tier venue from its vast Strip portfolio.

A’s Still Mulling Las Vegas

Earlier this week, MLB Commissioner noted the A’s are focusing on Las Vegas and that it’s not up for debate that the team needs a new stadium in Oakland. The club’s lease expires after the 2024 season.

Still, reports suggest that A’s ownership remains engaged with Oakland politicians in hopes of procuring a new statement in that city, stoking speculation that the team is merely leveraging Las Vegas against its current home.

Separately, reports recently surfaced that Gov. Joe Lombardo (R-NV) may be open to some form of public financing to get the A’s to Sin City. His predecessor, Democrat Steve Sisolak was opposed to such a plan. It’s likely Nevada taxpayers wouldn’t foot the entire $1 billion tab, but it could as much as a quarter of that figure or slightly more.

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