Oakland A’s Planned Las Vegas Move Hits Public Funding Roadblock

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The Oakland Athletics baseball team’s proposed move to a planned new Las Vegas ballpark has been stalled by a last-minute legislative impasse.

The Nevada legislature ended its 2023 session on Monday night without passing a funding bill for the proposed $1.5 billion, 30,000-seat stadium to go ahead.  

Senate Bill 509 was tabled on behalf of Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo. It asked for $380 million in public funding assistance to help the A’s build the new Las Vegas stadium.

However, lawmakers did not get round to voting on it before adjournment.

Now, if the bill is to be passed, a special session will have to be called. That means two-thirds of the legislature has to agree to run a session before any vote.

Doesn’t Seem to be a Priority

As well as time constraints, opposition to the financing plan seems to be swaying legislators away from approval.

One Nevada legislative insider told veteran sports journalist Norm Clarke that the stadium project could well be on the backburner for now.

“I’d give it a 50-50. It doesn’t seem to be a priority,” he said, as quoted by The Sporting Tribune.

Although Governor Lombardo has apparently begun calling for a special session, a Fox5Vegas journalist called the ballpark funding a “dead bill” that would not be considered even if a special session was called.

Low Performance

The same unnamed legislative insider also quoted public concern about the funding bill, and the general view of the Oakland Athletics team’s relationship with its current city.

Opposition “is based on the idea that stadiums are bad bills for the public,” he said.

Opponents of the bill have also “argued that the A’s have not been good community partners in Oakland, and will do the same in Las Vegas,” he said. “They also cited the low attendance in Oakland and the overall low performance of the team during its history.”

The As are currently 12-50, the worst record in the MLB this season, and they have had consistently poor attendance over the past year.

Reverse Boycott

However, that hasn’t stopped the A’s passionate California Bay Area fan base from trying to stop the move. Fans have organized a reverse-boycott, trying to pack out standard weekday fixtures and handing out $27,000 worth of club merchandise at a tailgate party.

Oakland fans already have a history with Las Vegas. The former Oakland Raiders NFL team moved to Nevada in 2017 and became the Las Vegas Raiders.

At that time, Nevada taxpayers coughed up some $750 million in funding to finance Allegiant Stadium. Which, at $1.9 billion in overall cost, was the second-most expensive stadium build in the world.  

Some of that was funded by an increase in hotel room taxes in Clark County.

However, less than a decade later, it seems the Nevada legislature’s desire to have major sports franchises move into the state may have a cooled a bit.

The news will also be a blow to Bally’s, which recently announced a deal on the lease of its Tropicana casino site for the stadium project.

If the planned Las Vegas move does fall through, billionaire A’s owner John Fisher does have a door open back in California. Oakland city Mayor Sheng Thao has emphatically said she is interested in renegotiating with the A’s, and even floated a rebuild on their current stadium.  

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