Alan Riquelmy

(CN) — A measure to stop taxpayer funding for the Oakland Athletics' new stadium in Las Vegas won’t appear on that state’s November ballot, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled Monday.

The ruling affirmed a lower court’s decision that had declared the referendum, advanced by the group Schools Over Stadiums, invalid and stopped the organization from collecting signatures; negated any signatures already gained; and prohibited the secretary of state from placing it on the ballot.

The attempt to put a measure on the ballot stemmed from Senate Bill 1, passed last year by the Nevada Legislature. That bill gave the Clark County Stadium Authority the power to build a Major League Baseball stadium in that county, home of Las Vegas, and create a way to finance its construction.

The bill calls for up to $380 million in taxpayer dollars for the stadium, which has an expected cost of $1.5 billion. The 30,000-seat stadium is slated for the former site of the Tropicana Las Vegas.

In June 2023, the Nevada State Education Association formed Schools Over Stadiums. It was a response to what it called a “giveaway” of tax dollars to a California billionaire while Nevada schools ranked 48th funding per pupil.

Schools Over Stadiums lamented Monday’s high court decision but said its fight wasn’t over.

“Schools Over Stadiums remains committed to stopping Nevada tax dollars from paying for a stadium for a California billionaire, and we are disappointed Nevada voters will not have their say in 2024,” said Alexander Marks, director of strategy with the Nevada State Education Association. “With this guidance, Schools Over Stadiums plans to refile our petition next year and win in 2026. Nevada voters deserve the opportunity to decide where their money goes.”

The justices said the proposed referendum failed muser for two reasons. First, it didn’t comply with the Nevada Constitution’s full-text requirement for ballot petitions.

According to the high court, any referendum petition must include the full text of the measure that’s being proposed. That ensures anyone considering signing the petition has the chance to read the whole act or resolution that’s at issue, and know what they support.

“Considering the purpose and language of the full-text requirement and the language of the particular petition at issue here, we conclude that SB 1 must be included in the petition in its entirety to provide voters the complete context of the proposed measure so that they can understand what the law is now and what the law will be should they approve or disapprove the parts of SB 1 that are being submitted to a vote of the people,” the justices wrote.

The high court also ruled that the petition didn’t properly describe what it would do — it offered a general explanation, but no description of its practical effects — and that it was "misleading."

The statement that Clark County could use up to $380 million taxpayer dollars gives the impression that the funding comes from existing money — it doesn’t mention that some of the money will come from specific areas within a sports and entertainment improvement district.

“Thus, it fails to straightforwardly and succinctly (inform) signatories about what the referendum proposes and thereby fails to ‘prevent voter confusion and promote informed decisions,’” the justices wrote.

The relocation of the Oakland A’s has caused a rift among baseball fans. Bay Area fans have expressed anger over the move, while Sacramento, California, rejoiced over last month’s decision to temporarily house the team at Sutter Health Park in West Sacramento.

Sutter Health Park has a 14,000-person capacity. The A’s are expected to stay there for three seasons, starting with 2025, before moving to their new, permanent home in Las Vegas in 2028.

The West Sacramento minor league team, the Sacramento River Cats, will continue playing at the park during the A’s stay.