The Nevada Independent reported on Friday that a bill was to be introduced that day into the state Senate outlining the amount of state funding lawmakers were willing to tentatively commit to funding a new stadium for the Oakland A’s MLB baseball team on land provided by Ballys’ Tropicana Las Vegas. The nine-acre plot is part of 35 acres owned by GLPI and leased for 99 years by Bally’s. The proposed stadium and entertainment site sits on a contiguous plot of land along with the casino resort hotel.
A financing package, capped at $380 million in public funds was proposed later that day in the bill with those funds contributing to the overall expected cost of the project being $1.5B.
Governor’s Office Introduced the Measure
According to updates and later reporting by the news source, a good portion of the previously announced funding structure carried over from discussions to the written proposed legislation. The draft, seen by reporters there prior to being introduced at the capitol was the first glimpse in writing of the scope of a potential financing agreement that includes $120m from Clark County (where Paradise, Nevada “The Strip” is located), and $180m in tax credits (transferable) by the state.
The Governor’s office itself introduced Senate Bill SB509 which foresees the management of a Stadium Authority undertaken by a 9-member board. The Stadium Authority itself has been authorized since 2016 and the venue it oversees and manages would reportedly be named Allegient Stadium.
Since no new revenue-based funding would be needed, only transferable tax credits, a simple majority vote in both houses of Congress, and a signature by Governor Joe Lombardo who has been in office since January of this year is all that is needed for the measure to become law. A more detailed look at the tax credits shows them to consist of tax-increment financing (TIF district) to repay county bonds and a 30-year-long exemption from taxes. GLPI/Bally’s would allow the use of the property for zero fees and create their own revenue from it by means other than rent or lease costs to the Stadium Authority or ball club.
The ball club itself would be responsible for any over-runs in costs, rather than the county or state, and the property tax exemption would be separate from the private portion of the funding needed to bring the project to fruition.
Adding to the public good and mitigating any potential unseen impacts of the deal, the measure would require the county to create a “resort corridor homelessness prevention and assistance fund”. There would be no financial input from the Authority of the project until construction is completed and then only after debt obligations are met. It would be managed by a partnership with the Nevada Resort Association and the Oakland A’s and will seek to reduce homelessness throughout the Southern Nevada resort corridor.
The corridor, which includes the Las Vegas and Reno areas, has a higher homeless rate than the national average with the Reno area suffering the greatest incidence count between the two. However, it has recently been estimated that as many as 1,500 people live “like moles” beneath the Strip area in tunnels mostly to escape the heat.
Unhoused Population Would Get Help from Funding Scheme
Stated reasons for the higher homeless rate include inflation, high rent, and unemployment. Direct studies of problem gambling and homelessness by causation are few and far between. While the number of homeless people in Nevada could be 3x as many as the national average it’s unclear how baseball or expanded gambling at Bally’s Tropicana Las Vegas would contribute to the problem so the fund should probably be seen simply as a way for lawmakers to capture a financial opportunity to address a very real need in the area with “found money” rather than a mitigation measure.
Earlier, the athletic club had sought $500m in public funding to relocate to a new stadium in Las Vegas but abandoned that plan when the Bally’s opportunity presented itself to them, saving the public some $120m over the previous “ask”.
The Oakland A’s AAA Farm Team, the Las Vegas Aviators of the Minor league have been in the valley as Oakland affiliates since 2019 with the club’s origins in the valley going back to 1983 as the Aviators and under other names, affiliations, and locations since 1919. The Oakland A’s have been seeking a move from California to Las Vegas since at least September 2021 amid trouble securing a new stadium in Oakland. The current arena was first opened in 1966 and last renovated in 2017 after only one other refurbishment in 1995-1996.
The Independent reports that all is not a smooth slide to home base with the deal as the Republican governor and Democratic lawmakers are struggling to address overall budget issues with less than two weeks left in the regular legislative session. Senate leaders and the governor have seemingly used stadium approval as a bargaining chip to get their way. It’s not out of the question for a special legislative session to be called to extend lawmaking business, but it’s unclear if the stadium proposal would survive such a measure or if the governor might try to use his veto power on individual segments of the state’s budget in an attempt to exert power of the Democratic lawmakers or simply keep the government running.
Fast Tracking of Bill Possible
However, special legislative rules do allow for the fast-tracking of certain bills, bypassing the regular parliamentary (bureaucratic) process and allowing lawmakers to amend important measures much quicker than normal. As the measure was introduced in the Senate it would presumably be passed there, be forwarded to the House for approval, and then arrive on the Governor’s desk for his signature or veto.
Source: A’s stadium bill language arrives, caps public financing at $380M, The Nevada Independent, May 26, 2023