Bob Leal

(CN) — Despite owning the worst record in Major League Baseball, the Oakland A’s hit a grand slam with part of the Nevada Legislature on Tuesday.

During a special session, the Senate gave the green light to an amended Senate Bill 1 by a 13-8 vote, allocating $380 million 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, which will be demolished. Public funding will include $180 million in transferable tax credits and $120 million in Clark County bonds.

The bill still has to be formally voted on by the Assembly, which is expected in a day or two.

Lawmakers initially balked at the stadium plan during their regular session and two special sessions before giving the OK. The stadium will be aided financially by a special tax district around the stadium.

The contentious issue had detractors saying Clark County shouldn’t be giving corporate welfare to billionaire owner Steve Fisher, heir to the GAP Inc. fortune built by his parents, Donald and Doris Fisher. Steve Fisher is also owner of Major League Soccer's San Jose Earthquakes and Celtic F.C., a soccer team that plays in the Scottish Premiership.

Proponents have said the stadium, with help from a special tax district, will pay for the bonds so taxpayers aren’t left holding the bag. Tropicana owner Bally’s plans to build a 1,500-room hotel and casino on the property near the stadium. GLPI, a real estate firm that owns the land the Tropicana sits on, will give nine acres of the 35-acre property to the A’s for free.

During Tuesday’s Assembly session, lawmakers again grilled Jeremy Aguero, a principal with Applied Analysis who has the A’s as a client, and Steve Hill, chief executive officer and president of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

“I stand behind the the analysis that has been done. I’m comfortable with it,” Aguero told lawmakers when asked if the stadium was a prudent use of public funds.

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. At the same time, the team was courting Las Vegas, in what A’s President Dave Kaval termed “parallel paths.”

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

But the A’s have fallen on dark times, sporting the worst record in MLB at 18-50. They are 24.5 games out of first in the Western Division of the American League.

Attendance for the A’s in the 2022 season was less than 10,000 per game — last in the major leagues. The Los Angeles Dodgers were first at around 47,600 a game. The A’s payroll, at $60 million, was also last. The New York Mets topped the league with $346 million.

“To make this work, the owners need to make a bold statement up front. What you want to see is the private ownership come in and be invested in our community and not just look to each of us who calls this home for more taxes,” Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn G. Goodman said last week.

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