Bob Leal

(CN) — Pending approval from Major League Baseball, the Oakland A’s have potentially found a new home after the Nevada Assembly on Wednesday voted 25-15 in favor of allocating $380 million in public money toward building a $1.5 billion, 30,000-seat stadium with a retractable roof on the southern end of the Las Vegas Strip at the site of Tropicana Las Vegas.

The special session vote followed Tuesday’s 12-7 Senate vote for an amended Senate Bill 1. The bill, which underwent minor changes by the Assembly, was pushed back to the Senate on Wednesday, where it was approved and will now head to Governor Joe Lombardo’s desk for a signature. It will have to be okayed by Major League Baseball.

Lawmakers initially balked at the stadium plan during their regular session and numerous special sessions before giving the green light. The stadium will be aided financially by a special tax district in the vicinity.

The stadium bill did not have enough votes to pass, but behind the scenes negotiations over the A’s financial commitments to the community propelled it to victory.

The A’s will donate $500,000 per year to the community once bonds are issued and $1.5 million per year or 1% of ticket revenue once games begin. The stadium is expected to be finished in 2027 or 2028.

Additionally, players will be required to engage in education programs and the team is required to help the community with ticket donations, supporting youth baseball programs and providing scholarships and internships.

But not everyone was shaking pom-poms for the new stadium, including state Assemblywoman Selena La Rue Hatch, a Democrat from District 25.

“We are giving 36 million dollars a year in public funds, in exchange for maybe 2 million dollars in-kind donations. That math doesn’t add up to me.” said Hatch. “We did have an amazing budget this last session and I’m proud of the work we did, but even with that budget we still have classes of 40 to 50 (students). We still have women that can’t work because we don’t have universal pre-K. They can’t get childcare. We still have people sleeping on the street.”

Hatch continued, “To me I can not justify voting for this bill and giving millions of dollars to a billionaire while our constituents are telling us they don’t want this and our constituents are asking us to invest in their communities. I urge my colleagues to reject this reckless waste of public dollars.”

State Assemblyman Ken Gray, a Republican from the 39th District, agreed with Hatch.

“My constituents and I think most of our constituents hired us to be policy makers, not investment advisers. That’s the first reason we shouldn’t be voting for this. Second, I still believe it’s in direct violation of our Constitution. I encourage my colleagues to vote no on SB 1.,” Gray said.

A common thread for detractors of the plan was that Clark County and Nevada shouldn’t be giving corporate welfare to the billionaire owner of the Oakland A’s, Steve Fisher, heir to the GAP Inc. fortune built by his parents, Donald and Doris Fisher.

But in the end more lawmakers saw the new stadium as a benefit to the community and state. Public funding will include $180 million in transferable tax credits and $120 million in Clark County bonds.

While proponents of the new baseball stadium were celebrating, it was another gut-punch for the city of Oakland, which lost its NBA basketball team to San Francisco in 2019 and its NFL football team the Raiders to Las Vegas in 2020.

The A’s had been negotiating for a new stadium in Oakland, but those efforts never materialized. The venerable Oakland Coliseum has outlived its usefulness, and the A’s were pushing for a waterfront ballpark.

This wouldn’t be the first time the A’s franchise has moved. The A’s started in Philadelphia in 1901 before moving to Kansas City in 1955. Oakland was home in 1968, where the A’s won four World Series championships in the Bay Area city, including three in a row (1972-74).

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