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Las Vegas mayor on A's planned relocation to desert: 'They've got to figure out a way to stay in Oakland'

With the sports world descending on Las Vegas, the city's mayor delivered an unexpected message Monday regarding the Oakland A's planned moved to her city: They're better off in Oakland.

While not a surprising or even uncommon sentiment if delivered by a neutral observer, it was shocking to hear it expressed by Mayor Carolyn Goodman. But that's the gist of the interview she gave to Front Office Sports six days before the city was slated to host the Super Bowl for the first time.

“I’ve lived in this town this year 60 years, and so I know the town like the back of my hand,” Goodman said of Las Vegas. “I personally think they’ve got to figure out a way to stay in Oakland and make their dream come true.”

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That was Goodman's conclusion in a roughly 15-minute interview in which she advocated that the A's not move forward with their plan to move into a yet-to-be built stadium on the Las Vegas Strip. Her stance drew understandable surprise in Las Vegas and beyond, prompting Goodman to issue a statement in response on Tuesday.

She didn't exactly walk back her comments.

"My points included that it is my belief that in their perfect world the ownership of the A's would like to have a new ballpark on the water in Oakland and that the ownership and government there should listen to their great fans and try to make that dream come true," Goodman's statement reads.

"Should that fail, Las Vegas has shown that it is a spectacular market for major league sports franchises."

Will the A's move to Las Vegas?

The A's have gone through multiple steps to put their move from Oakland to Las Vegas in motion. They've received the funding green light from state and local government in Nevada, as well as unanimous approval from MLB ownership, and set in motion plans to build a 30,000-seat stadium on the Strip at the current site of the Tropicana hotel and casino.

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman didn't exactly endorse the A's planned move from Oakland to her city. (Getty Images/L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman didn't exactly endorse the A's planned move from Oakland to her city. (Getty Images/L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal) (Las Vegas Review-Journal via Getty Images)

These steps were taken after a yearslong standoff between A's owner John Fisher and the city of Oakland which failed to secure a deal for a new waterfront home for the MLB franchise. But the plans are not concrete. Oakland's move to Las Vegas is still not inevitable, and Goodman sees good reason to pump the brakes on the project.

“I know in the back of both of their minds is, ‘If we could just get Oakland to go ahead and build what we need here,’ because certainly you have the fan base there,” Goodman said of Fisher and A's president Dave Kaval. “We already have the Raiders. Each city needs to have that spirit of sports."

Goodman also expressed skepticism about the team's plans to build a stadium on the Strip.

“Then again, too, you know when you know what other ownerships and franchises do to build their teams, to come here and take down an old hotel and put it right at the heart of the Strip and more congestion," she continued. "We have enough congestion right now, which we just experienced with Formula 1, as you know, came here."

Formula 1 executed its first race in Las Vegas in November. The street race partially ran down the Strip, with the setup and construction shutting down access to local businesses and casinos and reportedly costing millions in lost revenue.

Goodman's intent wasn't to reject the influx of sports to Las Vegas that has seen the city flip from its status as a sports pariah to become a coveted destination for franchise and tentpole events. She started the interview with an enthusiastic proclamation that the NBA would one day field a team in Las Vegas.

“I can assure you. That’s a when, not an if," Goodman said of the NBA. "I know they’re coming. We’ve been working on that through my whole term, got so close.”

She just doesn't think the A's moving from Oakland to Las Vegas is the best idea, nor does she believe that Fisher's heart is in the move. And she's not alone in that belief.