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Can the A’s turn Las Vegas into a baseball town? We asked the players who made it an MLB talent hotbed

Can the A’s turn Las Vegas into a baseball town? We asked the players who made it an MLB talent hotbed

Is Las Vegas a baseball town? One version of the question was settled years ago, when native sons Bryce Harper and Kris Bryant won back-to-back NL MVP Awards in 2015 and 2016. Along with Twins slugger Joey Gallo and a variety of other major-leaguers, Harper and Bryant, of the Phillies and Rockies, respectively, came along to attract scouts just as the growing Southern Nevada region started drawing more and more interest from the sports and entertainment community, including MLB, which hosted its annual winter meetings there in December 2018.

A different version of that question is on the table now, as the Oakland Athletics try to nail down a ballpark site and (seemingly more importantly to ownership) public funding to import an MLB team and give the city a foothold in three of the four major American men’s sports leagues.

The A’s, after years of trying to negotiate a ballpark project that would’ve required massive public infrastructure spending in Oakland, announced a pivot to Las Vegas in April and then a smaller pivot to a different site in Vegas earlier this week as they search for a deal local officials can stomach. Whether the team will be able to secure terms amenable to team owner John Fisher and actually pull off a move remains to be seen, but the intent to move to Las Vegas is clear.

And if the A’s don’t do it, the city ranks among the most notable contenders for a future expansion franchise.

“I definitely think it’s a good spot,” Bryant told Yahoo Sports. “I mean, if the A’s weren’t going there, I think it would be probably at the top of the list.”

Growing up, Bryant and his fellow Vegas natives benefited from the same conducive climates that help California, Florida and Arizona produce strong crops of baseball prospects.

“It gets hot in the summer, but for the most part, you can play baseball year-round,” Bryant said. “And that just gave us a chance to play more baseball than people on the East Coast, in the Midwest. So that was just good for us.”

Clearly, the American sports industry is banking on the Las Vegas area — home to about 2.3 million people and growing — continuing to attract people and sports fans. The A’s would be the third team to make its Vegas debut since 2017, joining the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights and the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders, the baseball team’s former Oakland stadium roomies.

How will Las Vegas adjust its sports rooting interests?

But just as local population doesn’t equate to media…

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