‘Tentative’ deal to bring ‘A’s’ to Las Vegas


Oakland A’s reach loose agreement for public funding for new Vegas stadium Image: Coliseum GSVA

The Major League Baseball (MLB) team Oakland ‘A’s’ and major State officials announced on May 24th that they have reached a “tentative” agreement to bring the team to Las Vegas (US) via a multimillion dollar public financing package to help fund construction of a $1.5 billion stadium, but did not include details about the financial commitments by the State and the Clark County (county in Nevada).

‘thenevadaindependent.com’ stated that the joint statement, which included comments from the Governor of Nevada, Joe Lombardo, legislative leaders, the Clark County, and the State Treasurer, marks a sizable step forward after weeks of concerns from lawmakers and the County over the scope of the team’s public financing request. However, the Bill language still needs to be introduced and passed by the Legislature, which is less than two weeks away from adjourning on June 5th.

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 Oakland Arena, near Interstate 880. The Coliseum is the home ballpark of Major League Baseball’s (MLB’s) Oakland Athletics.

The ‘A’s’ new venue plans included creating 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.

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

‘thenevadaindependent.com’ further stated that A’s President Dave Kaval said in a statement the team appreciated the support from the State and the Clark County – “We look forward to advancing this legislation in a responsible way.”

In a statement released on May 24th by Lombardo’s office, the parties said the proposed public financing would be less than 25 percent of the cost of the ballpark, “making it the third-lowest public share” for the 14 Major League Baseball stadiums built this century.

Stated Lombardo, “This agreement follows months of negotiations between the State, the county and the ‘A’s’, and I believe it gives us a tremendous opportunity to continue building on the professional sports infrastructure of Southern Nevada. Las Vegas is clearly a sports town, and Major League Baseball should be a part of it.”

The ‘A’s’ have a “binding agreement” with the companies that control a 35-acre site on the Strip that houses the Tropicana Hotel and Casino. The team is being given nine acres free of charge to build the stadium.

Sources close to the negotiations stated that the public financing package would be at least $325 million, significantly less than the $500 million the team originally sought to assist in relocating the franchise to the stadium in Las Vegas.

The ‘A’s’ hope to open the proposed 30,000-seat retractable-roof stadium in time for the 2027 season.

As the deal stands now, sources with knowledge of the discussions indicated the State will contribute $180 million in transferable tax credits, of which 50 percent would be refundable – meaning the franchise can trade any excess credits for cash from the State.

The Clark County would issue $120 million in bonds (an amount that could change depending on interest rates), a 30-year property tax exemption and a $25 million credit allocated toward infrastructure costs associated with the development agreement.

A source close to the negotiations estimated that the 30-year property tax exemption could be equivalent to almost $55 million over that time period, potentially bringing the total public financing package up to $380 million.

The Nevada State Treasurer Zach Conine said in a statement, “This tentative agreement minimizes the risk to the Nevada taxpayers in the most fiscally responsible manner. I’m also pleased that this project will leverage the most private investment of any baseball stadium in the country.”

The Nevada Assembly Speaker Steve Yeager (D-Las Vegas) said he was “excited” to finally receive a proposal from the ‘A’s’ but said he needed to review it before offering his support – “No commitment will be made until we have both evaluated the official proposal and received input from the interested parties, including the impacted community members. At the end of the day, any decision will be guided by what is best for the Nevadans, our economy and our communities.”

The Nevada Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro (D-Las Vegas) was also noncommittal, saying in a statement that “we will give this proposal a thorough vetting to fully explore the opportunity and its impacts on Southern Nevada.”

In the Governor’s press release, an unnamed Clark County spokesperson said the County believes “it is reflective of the prudent financial practises of the Clark County”.

Sources indicated recently that the State lawmakers were only willing to contribute up to $195 million in transferable tax credits for stadium construction funding, and a dollar amount had not yet been agreed upon by the Clark County. The Clark County officials said they were concerned the taxpayers could end up on the hook to cover debt payments if the stadium wasn’t generating enough revenue.

The ‘A’s’ initially said they were seeking $500 million in public funding to assist with the stadium construction, but in the weeks since, the team announced they were changing the proposed site and reducing the public dollar request to $395 million.

Approval by the Legislature is one sign-off needed by the ‘A’s’ before construction could start on the ballpark. The Major League Baseball’s relocation committee would also need to approve the project by January 1st.

The proposed stadium’s proximity to the Harry Reid International Airport in Paradise, Nevada, means the team will also require approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) before beginning construction.

Washington, D.C., (US)-based the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the largest transportation agency of the US Government and regulates all aspects of civil aviation in the country as well as over the surrounding international waters.

A spokeswoman for the FAA stated, “By law, developers must give the FAA the opportunity to evaluate the proposed structures near airports to determine whether they could pose a hazard to the aircraft or interfere with the navigation aids. Each determination is unique. Our determinations identify hazards to air navigation.”

The ‘A’s announced on April 20th that it was acquiring 49 acres from the Red Rock Resorts for a stadium and entertainment district at the Tropicana Boulevard and Dean Martin Road.

Las Vegas (US)-based the Red Rock Resorts, Inc. is a gaming, development and management company. The company’s segments include Las Vegas operations, Native American Management and Corporate and other. The Las Vegas operations segment includes all of its Las Vegas area casino properties and the Native American management segment includes its Native American management arrangements.

On May 15th, Tropicana operator Bally’s Corporation and the real estate investment trust Gaming and Leisure Properties (GLPI) confirmed a report from a week earlier that the ‘A’s abandoned the Red Rock site. The companies announced they were giving the ‘A’s nine acres and the GLPI said it would provide $175 million for “shared improvements” on the site.

The Bally’s Corporation is a gaming, betting and interactive entertainment company headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island (US). It owns and operates 15 casinos across 10 States, a horse track in Colorado and online sports betting operations in 14 States.

The Gaming and Leisure Properties, Inc. is a real estate investment trust specializing in casino properties, based in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, US. It was formed in November 2013 as a corporate spin-off from the Penn National Gaming. The company owns 57 casino properties, all of which are leased to the other companies.

The Tropicana Las Vegas is a casino hotel on the Las Vegas Strip in Paradise, Nevada, US. It is owned and operated by Bally’s Corporation, on land leased from the Gaming and Leisure Properties. It offers 1,467 rooms, a 50,000-square-foot (4,600 m2) gaming floor and 72,000 sq ft (6,700 m2) of convention and exhibit space.

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