The Oakland A’s were beginning to look like they might end up being a homeless Major League Baseball team.
The A’s had been negotiating with the City of Oakland for a $1 billion waterfront ballpark as part of a $12 billion Howard Terminal project near the city’s Jack London Square, which the team had first unveiled back in 2018. The team, which has won four World Series championships in the city, had nothing but problems trying to finalize a deal as the city missed deadlines needed to move forward with an A’s ballpark.
The A’s lease at the RingCentral Coliseum expires at the end of 2024, and MLB officials said the team would need to have a new ballpark plan settled by then if it was going to remain in Oakland. But the A’s washed their hands of the Oakland negotiations as they continued to drag on, and they instead began concentrating on Las Vegas.
At first, the A’s considered sites for a ballpark on the property of the Tropicana Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Fairgrounds site adjacent to Phil Ruffin’s Circus Circus. Later, the A’s owners reached a binding agreement to purchase a 49-acre former Wild Wild West site near the Las Vegas Strip owned by Red Rock Resorts to build a $1.5 billion, 35,000-seat stadium with a retractable roof and entertainment complex.
While the A’s owners searched for the ideal site for a ballpark, Nevada politicians weren’t so hospitable. Former Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak had made comments that Nevada had no desire to use public tax money to finance construction of a ballpark. Next, a spokeswoman for new Gov. Joe Lombardo’s said he opposed raising taxes to fund a stadium.
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A’s Owner and President Don’t Give Up
A’s owner John Fisher and team president Dave Kaval wouldn’t give up. In May, they set aside the Wild Wild West deal and reached another agreement with Bally’s Corp., which holds a 50-year lease on the 34-acre site of the Tropicana. The A’s plan to build a $1.5 billion, 30,000-seat stadium on a portion of the hotel-casino site, seek $380 million public funding for the project but not buy the site. Bally’s (BALY) – Get Free Report would hold on to its lease.
The A’s ran into problems on June 6 when the Nevada State Legislature let Senate Bill 509, which would have provided the $380 million in public funding for construction of the ballpark on the Tropicana Las Vegas Property, die in committee without a vote. The legislature adjourned the session leaving the A’s ballpark in limbo.
Lombardo on June 7 called the state legislature into a special session to consider a bill to provide public funding for a 30,000 seat stadium. At first, several legislators, both Republicans and Democrats, spoke out against the bill, since the A’s didn’t include any ticket taxes or community benefits in the bill.
The Nevada legislature on June 8 adjourned its special session until June 12, but didn’t meet until June 13 to consider an amended Senate Bill 1. Amendments set boundaries for a special tax district to fund bonds issued to build the stadium to encircle the stadium grounds. No hotels or gaming establishments would be included in the district, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
The amendments also designated Clark County to issue bonds for a portion of stadium costs for which the state would not be responsible for repayment. The county could draw upon a state line of credit, and the legislature could still to pass new laws or repeal or amend others involving the stadium project. If revenues fall far short of projections, Clark County taxpayers would reportedly be responsible to pay the stadium bonds.
Other amendments require the stadium workers during construction and operation to be diverse and be paid a living wage. The bill calls for the team’s players to participate in education programs, and the team must provide scholarships, mentorships and internships. Community benefits funding requires the A’s to provide $500,000 a year before the stadium opens and either $1.5 million a year or 1% of ticket revenues once the stadium opens in 2028.
A stadium community oversight committee will submit reports to the governor, Legislative Counsel Bureau and Clark County officials detailing progress. A community benefits director will advise the committee and monitor compliance.
Legislature Attaches Laws Not Passed in Regular Session
Another amendment calls for businesses with 50 or more employees that receive tax exemptions to provide at least 12 weeks of paid family medical leave to employees after a year’s employment, and requires those businesses to not retaliate against employees who take such leave. It also removed an exemption that allows railroads and monorails to avoid paying prevailing wages on construction and repair projects. These conditions were part of legislation that did not pass in the legislature’s regular session.
The Nevada State Senate on June 13 voted 13-8 to approve $380 million in public funding for the A’s ballpark on the Tropicana property with eight Democrats and five Republicans supporting it. The bill needed 11 votes to pass. The bill next moves to the Assembly for a vote.