A’s phew moment as Vegas venue Bill gets nod



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Oakland Athletics stadium update 14-6-2023 Image: Oakland Athletics

A stadium financing Bill aimed at drawing the Major League Baseball (MLB) team Oakland Athletics to Las Vegas (US) cleared a major hurdle on June 13th after being approved by the Nevada Senate, but not before lawmakers amended the measure to strengthen its benefits for the community.

‘SN’ stated that the 13-8 Senate vote marks another step as the Bill moves through the Democratic-controlled Legislature while reviving the national debate over public funding for private sports clubs. The Bill, which has the support of the Republican Governor of Nevada Joe Lombardo, must now be considered by the State Assembly.

The Oakland Athletics are an American professional baseball team based in Oakland, California (US). The Athletics compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the American League West division. The team plays its home games at the Oakland Coliseum.

The 63,000-capacity Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum is a stadium in Oakland, California (US). It is part of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Complex, with the adjacent 19,200-capacity Oakland Arena, near Interstate 880. The Coliseum is the home ballpark of the Major League Baseball’s Oakland Athletics.

The ‘A’s new venue plans included creating a mixed-use development with up to 3,000 residential units, up to 1.5 million square feet of offices and up to 270,000 square feet of retail uses. The proposed development at the Port of Oakland’s Howard Terminal included plans for a $12 billion mixed-use project built around a $1 billion, 30,000-seat waterfront ballpark.

However, with a lot of feet-dragging on the Oakland plan, the team decided to move to Las Vegas. The team has a lease agreement to play at the aging Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum through 2024.

‘SN’ further stated that ‘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.

The Senate approval came after days of closed-door negotiations and a contentious hearing about the Bill, which calls for contributing $380 million in public funding for the proposed $1.5 billion stadium.

Many lawmakers have criticized a lack of community benefits and the special session rush to consider the financing bill. But legislators several struck a more positive tone on June 13th, saying the amendments addressed much of their skepticism.

Averred Edgar Flores, Democratic Senator, “I assure every Nevadan, even those of you who have concerns about this Bill – I assure you that if you see where the Bill started and where it is now, that there’s not a single Nevadan that won’t say this Bill was much better.”

Republican Senator Ira Hansen was among a bipartisan group of Senators still concerned about the amount of public funding that would be spend on the project – “Honestly, if it was my own money, it’s a good deal. I would probably vote ‘Yes’. But it’s not my money. It’s the taxpayers’ money, and we should do all we can to ensure the private sector does these sorts of investments.”

Amendments to the Bill include diversity requirements for stadium and construction jobs as well as community service requirements for the Athletics players. They also would accelerate the funneling of money generated from operations to a homelessness prevention account and make a larger share of $180 million in State transferable tax credits that are proposed for the stadium refundable to the State.

Lawmakers also inserted changes unrelated to the stadium proposal but which mirror legislation Lombardo vetoed earlier this month.

One would require all Nevada companies with at least 50 full-time employees to establish paid family and medical leave to qualify for certain tax abatements. Another would remove a provision that exempts railroad workers under State contracts from being paid the prevailing wage for similar work in the region.

Last month, Lombardo’s office introduced the stadium financing Bill with less than two weeks left in the legislative session. He called lawmakers into the special session after the Bill failed to pass during the regular session.

The $380 million in public funds for the stadium would mainly come from the $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 unless the county cannot pay off its bonds, as is the case with other general obligation bonds.

The ‘A’s’ would not owe property taxes for the publicly-owned stadium. The Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, would also contribute $25 million in credit toward infrastructure costs.

The proposed 30,000-seat stadium would be the smallest in Major League Baseball (MLB).

New York (US)-based the Major League Baseball (MLB) is a professional baseball organization. One of the major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada, the MLB comprises 30 teams, divided equally between the National League (NL) and the American League (AL), with 29 in the United States and 1 in Canada.

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