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September 30, 2014

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Mayor: American League team says no to Las Vegas

Goodman says efforts continue to land MLB team or another pro sports team

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Leila Navidi

Mayor Oscar Goodman reacts after he botches a pitch before the White Sox versus Cubs exhibition game at Cashman Field in Las Vegas in April. Goodman announced Thursday that a Major League team he was speaking with decided against moving to Las Vegas.

A swing and a miss. That's the result of Las Vegas' most recent effort to lure an American League baseball team, Mayor Oscar Goodman revealed today.

But the city is staying in the batter's box, says Goodman, who is still hoping to score a Major League Baseball team — or a professional franchise from another major sport — before he is term-limited out of office next year.

"The discussions continued as recently as yesterday," Goodman told reporters today at his weekly press conference at City Hall.

Goodman, who has spoken about efforts to land a pro baseball team for the last three weeks at his press conferences, was up front about why the team, which he declined to name, turned down Las Vegas.

"We heard from one team that I was very interested in pursuing that our market is not big enough, our media market is not big enough and our economy is in such a state that they're not interested in considering us at this time," Goodman said.

But he said he was still pushing for another MLB team — or a professional team in another major sport — to bring a franchise to the city.

"That has not dulled my enthusiasm," Goodman said. "I'm talking to other people about it. I'm talking to other people about all sports. Because I said one of the things I wanted to do before I hung up my cleats was to get ourselves at least a commitment from a major league sports team."

The mayor said his key emissary in talks with baseball franchises has been Don Logan, who is the general manager of the Las Vegas 51s, the city's Triple-A baseball franchise of the Pacific Coast League.

"I spoke to Donny Logan," Goodman said. "He's the one who has been negotiating for me, so to speak, because of the respect that baseball has for him and his ability. He's trying to set up a meeting now with — I guess he would call him a broker - somebody who deals with teams that are looking."

Will Las Vegas continue to look at an American League team?

"Now I don't know what we're going to be talking to next," Goodman said.

Goodman said he had checked into seeing if the American League's Tampa Bay Rays might be available.

"Their lease is good until 2018. Now that's a long time, that's a long time away," Goodman said.

The mayor has said part of the discussions will involve building a climate-controlled domed 45,000-seat stadium on city-owned property downtown.

"I spoke to somebody yesterday about building a stadium and they have the wherewithal to do it, so we are pursuing it," he said. "We're still doing our research on the stadium."

Asked about the latest efforts to lure a professional basketball franchise to Las Vegas, the mayor said the ball was in the court of the Cordish Company. Last November, Cordish entered an exclusive two-year negotiating agreement with the city to develop a sports arena, a casino-hotel and an entertainment district on city owned property that includes the existing city hall and parking garage.

"I'm in a tough spot there because I can't talk to other people who want to talk to me about it, since we're in our exclusive negotiations with the Cordish Company," Goodman said. "We're trying to get permission from Cordish that I can speak with others because I've had two serious inquiries about basketball and an arena here."

Goodman said City Manager Betsy Fretwell is trying to get something in writing from Cordish that says "the mayor may not negotiate, but he can talk to people."

"I'm taking the conservative view here and not talking to anybody about it, because of our agreement," Goodman said. "But two live ones came by."

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