Sydney Opera House? A spherical armadillo? A's promise 'new type of baseball park' in Vegas

A rendering of the Athletics' planned $1.5 billion stadium in Las Vegas that shows five overlapping layers
The Oakland Athletics and their design teams released renderings of the club's planned $1.5-billion stadium in Las Vegas on Tuesday. While some say the building resembles the famous Sydney Opera House, one of the designers compared it to "a spherical armadillo." (Negativ / Associated Press)

The Oakland Athletics have released artist renderings of their planned $1.5-billion ballpark in Las Vegas, and the new building looks ...

Stunning? Definitely.

Innovative? Absolutely.

Like a spherical armadillo? Sure (more on that later).

Unique? Well, not quite.

The stadium depicted in the renderings released Tuesday by the A's and design firms Bjarke Ingels Group and HNTB is striking in many ways — and it struck some people as bearing quite a resemblance to a world-famous venue.

Australia's Sydney Opera House.

A rendering shows the exterior of the Athletics stadium in Vegas.
The Athletics and their design teams released renderings Tuesday of the club's planned $1.5-billion stadium in Las Vegas. (Negativ / Associated Press)
A boat passes the Sydney Opera House.
A ferry passenger views the Sydney Opera House. (Alessandra Tarantino / Associated Press)

One X user notes that "the A's are literally building the Sydney Opera House on the Las Vegas Strip," while another points out that "Las Vegas already has a fake Statue of Liberty and a fake Eiffel Tower, so why not a fake Sydney Opera House?"

"We were really honored and flattered that people compared it to the Sydney Opera House, which is one of the most timeless and iconic buildings in the world," Athletics president Dave Kaval told The Times in a phone interview Wednesday. "And we’re just really excited about sharing our vision for a totally new type of baseball park."

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Kaval said it wasn't intentional that the A's future home — a 33,000-person capacity ballpark to be built on nine acres of the site where the Tropicana Resort and Casino currently stands — bears a resemblance to the beloved Australian concert venue that celebrated its 50th anniversary in October.

While both buildings have distinctive roofs made up of massive, overlapping arches, the ones in the stadium's design were "inspired by traditional baseball pennants," according to the A's website. They also serve a functional purpose, working with another stadium feature — described on the team's site as "the world’s largest cable-net glass window" — to help fill the building with natural light.

A rendering of people standing outside the Athletics stadium.
The Athletics' planned stadium in Las Vegas features a giant "cable-net glass window, facing the corner of Tropicana and Las Vegas boulevards." (Negativ / Associated Press)

"Enclosed stadiums are usually completely enclosed, like the Kingdome [in Seattle] or the Astrodome [in Houston] or whatever, and then you just don’t have the ability to feel like you’re outside," Kaval said. "And that was the one really guiding principal of the design from ownership and with Bjarke Ingels, our designer, to make it feel like it’s outside. So introducing all the glass and the pennants allowed us to do that in a way that created a really exciting architectural form at the same time.”

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Social media users also have picked up on a certain two-word phrase Ingels has used to describe the design.

Yes, this is the "spherical armadillo" part.

A rendering of the Athletics stadium interior.
The inside of the Athletics' planned ballpark in Las Vegas features an 18,000-square-foot screen and a view of the Strip. (Negativ / Associated Press)

“The resultant architecture is like a spherical armadillo — shaped by the local climate — while opening and inviting the life of the Strip to enter and explore," Ingels stated in the team's news release. "In the city of spectacle, the A’s ‘armadillo’ is designed for passive shading and natural light — the architectural response to the Nevada climate generating a new kind of vernacular icon in Vegas.”

Kaval said: “So when they did a lot of the designs for the roof, they had other ones too that had different forms. And the armadillo — and at one point he called it a 'zig-zag armadillo' and now he kind of moved to 'spherical armadillo' — was the one he always liked the most. It’s really amazing that he even had the creativity to come up with something like that.”

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MLB team owners voted unanimously in November in favor of the Athletics' move from Oakland to Las Vegas. Kaval said the organization is "on pace" to move into its new facility ahead of the 2028 season.

"I think when people go to the games, it’s gonna be really attractive for them and exciting," Kaval said. "There’s gonna be a lot of energy, they’re gonna be close to the action, and there’s not really a bad seat in the house. And that’s really important for us because in many ways you’re competing against staying home and watching it on your 80-inch television.

"It has to be different. That’s a change from 20 or 30 years ago, and we need to keep up with the times and make sure we have a venue that meets the moment.”

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.