‘A’s’ funding Bill challenge: Time gliding by


Oakland Athletics schools over stadiums Image: Oakland Athletics

The Nevada (US) Supreme Court did not render a decision on April 9th after hearing arguments regarding a challenge to the Major League Baseball (MLB) team Oakland Athletics’ public funding Bill.

‘LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL’ stated that the lawyers for ‘A’s’ lobbyists Danny Thompson and Thomas Morley, and the political action committee ‘Schools Over Stadiums’ were each given 17 minutes to argue their sides to the seven Supreme Court justices on why a lower court’s 2023 decision regarding a petition opposing the Senate Bill 1, the ‘A’s’ stadium public financing Bill signed into law last year, should be upheld or appealed.

The Oakland Athletics (often referred to as the Oakland ‘A’s’) are an American professional baseball team based in Oakland, California. The Athletics compete in the Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the American League (AL) West Division. The team currently plays its home games at the Oakland Coliseum, with plans to temporarily move to the 14,014-capacity Sutter Health Park in West Sacramento, California, for the 2025-2027 seasons (with an option for the 2028 season), prior to their permanent move to Las Vegas.

The 63,000-capacity Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum is a multipurpose stadium in Oakland, California, United States. It is part of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Complex, with the adjacent 19,200-capacity Oakland Arena, near Interstate 880. It is the home venue of the Oakland Athletics of MLB.

The ‘Schools Over Stadiums’ is a newly-formed Political Action Committee of the Nevada State Education Association (NSEA). For years, the Nevada educators have been issuing an SOS over the dire conditions in the schools. The goal of Schools Over Stadiums is to right this ship and keep the focus on Nevada’s (US) true priorities – the kids, the parents and the educators. The PAC is dedicated to stopping public funds from being used to subsidize a billionaire’s stadium in Las Vegas.

Las Vegas (US)-based the Nevada State Education Association (NSEA) has been the voice of the Nevada educators for over 120 years. The NSEA and its community partners believe in opportunity for every student and in the power of public education to transform lives and create a more just and inclusive society.

‘LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL’ further stated that the matter began last Summer when ‘Schools Over Stadiums’, a Political Action Committee created by the Nevada State Education Association, filed for a petition referendum challenging the Senate Bill 1. The petition cited five Sections of SB1 the PAC said violated the State Constitution. The ‘A’s’ lobbyists Thompson and Morley then filed a lawsuit calling the petition referendum misleading for only containing portions of SB1.

In November, the District Judge James Russell ruled in favor of the ‘A’s’ lobbyists, stopping the petition efforts and leading to the ‘Schools Over Stadiums’ appealing the ruling to the Supreme Court.

The ‘Schools Over Stadiums’ has until June 26th to gather 102,362 verified signatures of the registered Nevada voters who took part in the 2022 general election in order to place the ‘A’s’ public financing plan on November’s ballot for a public vote.

On April 9th, each side focused on why the referendum should or shouldn’t have to contain the full text of the SB1.

Francis Flaherty, an Attorney representing the PAC, said that including just the five sections the group finds unconstitutional would help avoid confusion for the voters who might sign the petition. He said it wouldn’t be any different if there were two separate petitions, one with the sections and the other with the full text of the Bill.

Questioned Flaherty, “How does that prevent voter confusion? How does that promote informed decisions?”

Bradley Schrager, Attorney for the ‘A’s’ lobbyists, cited a portion of the Nevada Constitution that states a petition must include full text -“The Article 19, Section 3, pursuant to which each referendum petition and initiative petition shall have full text of the measure proposed. And that phrase is actually original to the direct democracy of Nevada.”

The Senate Bill 1 is 66 pages long and features 46 Sections that include details of financing the ‘A’s’ ballpark, creating an entertainment tax district, establishing power of the Las Vegas Stadium Authority over the ballpark proceedings and giving authority to the State Treasurer to issue transferable tax credits.

The Supreme Court Justice Lidia Stiglich likened the situation to a car, asking Flaherty that if the voters who might sign the petition aren’t presented with the whole Bill, how would they fully understand what’s being presented?

Stiglich questioned, “If SB1 is a car, don’t the voters have to have the whole thing to understand how many wheels you’re taking off.”

Flaherty disagreed, saying they would explain to the voters what parts of the Bill are being targeted, instead of presenting the entire text – “You talk a little bit about what the car is and then tell them what you’re going to do with it.”

As of April 9th, the ‘Schools Over Stadiums’ would have just 78 days to collect the required signatures, if they were legally able to do so. With the next court date for the matter yet to be set, time is running out for the PAC to gather the required signatures, if the Supreme Court ultimately reverses the lower court’s decision.

Commented Chris Daly, Deputy Executive Director for Government Relations for the Nevada State Education Association (NSEA), “The clock’s ticking. We’re acutely aware of that.”

The ‘A’s’ plan to begin construction in April 2025 on the 33,000 fan-capacity stadium to be located on nine acres of the 35-acre site of the former Tropicana Las Vegas (a defunct casino hotel on the Las Vegas Strip in Paradise, Nevada).

The Las Vegas Strip, also known as the Las Vegas Boulevard, is a 4.2-mile (6.8 km) stretch of the Las Vegas Boulevard in Clark County, Nevada (US). It’s known for its concentration of upscale casino hotels, neon lights and nightlife. The Strip is located South of the Las Vegas City limits in the unincorporated towns of Paradise and Winchester, and is adjacent to but outside the City limits.

Tentative plans call for the Tropicana to be demolished in October, and for the site to be cleared and prepared in the following months to have the land ready for construction to begin next Spring.

The ‘A’s’ plan to begin play in Las Vegas in 2028 and will play their final season in Oakland this year, before playing home games at a Triple-A ballpark in Sacramento in the interim between 2025-2027.

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