Governor signs public funding bill for new A's stadium in Vegas, growing global sports destination

Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo has signed into law a $380 million public financing package to help build a Major League Baseball stadium for the Oakland Athletics on the Las Vegas Strip

Scott Sonner
Friday 16 June 2023 02:40 BST
Nevada Special Session Athletics Baseball
Nevada Special Session Athletics Baseball

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Louise Thomas

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Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo signed into law Thursday a $380 million public financing package to help build a Major League Baseball stadium for the Oakland Athletics on the Las Vegas Strip as MLB's commissioner outlined a months-long approval process for the A's proposed move there.

The first-term Republican governor and former sheriff in Las Vegas said he was excited to sign the measure the Democrat-controlled Legislature approved Wednesday night after a seven-day long special session.

“This is an incredible opportunity to bring the A’s to Nevada,” Lombardo said in a statement from Carson City.

The $1.5 billion stadium with a retractable roof is planned near the homes of the NFL’s Vegas Raiders, who fled Oakland in 2020, and the NHL’s Golden Knights, who won the Stanley Cup this week in just their sixth season.

“This legislation reflects months of negotiations between the team, the state, the county, and the league,” Lombardo said. "Las Vegas’ position as a global sports destination is only growing, and Major League Baseball is another tremendous asset for the city."

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred outlined the review process of the A's proposed relocation during a news conference hours earlier at a meeting of owners in New York. With a capacity of 30,000, the stadium would be MLB’s smallest.

Manfred said the team must submit a relocation application explaining its efforts in Oakland and why Las Vegas is a better market. A relocation committee will define the new operating territory and television territory. It will then make a recommendation to Manfred and the eight-man executive council. The executive council formulates a recommendation to all clubs, which must approve the move by at least three-quarters vote.

The team said in a statement late Thursday the Nevada governor's signing of the funding package was “a significant step forward in securing a new home for the Athletics.”

“We will now begin the process with MLB to apply for relocation to Las Vegas," the statement said. “We are excited about Southern Nevada’s dynamic and vibrant professional sports scene, and we look forward to becoming a valued community member through jobs, economic development, and the quality of life and civic pride of a Major League Baseball team.”

The $380 million in public funding would mainly come from $180 million in transferable tax credits and $120 million in county bonds. Backers have pledged that the creation of a special tax district around the proposed stadium would generate enough money to pay off those bonds and interest. The plan would not directly raise taxes.

The plan had revived the national debate over public funding for private sports clubs. A’s representatives and some Nevada tourism officials have said the measure could add to Las Vegas’ growing sports scene and act as an economic engine. But a growing chorus of economists and some lawmakers have warned that such a project would bring minimal benefits when compared to the hefty public price tag.

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