Nevada Senate backs stadium funding package, A’s fans stage ‘Reverse Boycott’

Featured image credit: Oakland Athletics

The Nevada Senate has voted in favour of providing up to $380m (£300.4m/€351.7m) in public funding for a new Oakland Athletics stadium in Las Vegas, with yesterday’s (Tuesday’s) news coming as a ‘Reverse Boycott’ staged by the MLB franchise’s fans resulted in comfortably the largest attendance of the season at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

The Senate voted 13-8 in favour of the funding proposal, while the Assembly today followed suit by 25-15. The final votes are seen as a critical step towards the A’s proposed relocation from Oakland. The deal still requires the signature of Governor Joe Lombardo, plus approval from Major League Baseball, but both are expected to be forthcoming.

The Athletics said on Wednesday: “Tonight, we thank the members of the Nevada State Legislature and their staff for their hard work, due diligence, and attention to detail as we work to bring the Athletics to Las Vegas. We are especially grateful for the legislators’ time and dedication to shepherding this bill through the process, including the special session. We look forward to Governor Lombardo’s signature as our next step.”

Lawmakers in Nevada last week adjourned their four-month legislature session, delaying the bill that will help deliver a new 30,000-seat stadium. The Las Vegas Review-Journal said legislators yesterday heard amendments to the bill outlining how the community would benefit from the $1.5bn ballpark, proposed for the Tropicana Las Vegas site.

According to the newspaper, the first amendment would specify that the boundaries of the special tax district, formed to fund the bonds issued to build the stadium, will encompass the facility itself “and any surrounding or adjacent properties necessary for the operation of that project.” The amendment specifies that no hotels or gaming establishments will be located inside the district.

The amendment also states that Clark County must issue the bonds for a portion of the stadium costs, with the state not bearing responsibility for their repayment. The county may, if required, draw upon a state line of credit.

The amendment also reserves the right of the Legislature to pass new laws, or repeal or amend others, regarding the stadium project.

Lombardo announced last month that a tentative agreement had been reached with the A’s to relocate the team to Las Vegas. It came after the A’s reached a binding agreement with Bally’s Corporation and Gaming & Leisure Properties Inc. (GLPI) to build a new ballpark on the Tropicana hotel site.

The A’s had previously signed a binding agreement with Red Rock Resorts to build a new ballpark on a 49-acre site at Dean Martin Drive and Tropicana Avenue. The decision to switch focus was said to revolve around the A’s seeking to reduce the project’s dependency on public funding from the Nevada Legislature, from $500m to $395m.

The A’s unveiled the first renderings of the proposed Las Vegas ballpark last month. The stadium would feature a retractable roof and a playing surface that would allow the outfield to open to the corner of the Tropicana and Las Vegas Boulevard, providing views of the Strip.

It is also hoped that the stadium will serve as a hub for sports, entertainment and community engagement by hosting concerts and other events throughout the year. The A’s hope to break ground on the project next year, with a view to opening the stadium in time for the 2027 MLB season.

While the Senate vote was taking place, the A’s were taking on the Tampa Bay Rays in their current home – the Coliseum. A’s fans enacted their long-planned Reverse Boycott scheme, designed to protest against club owner John Fisher and demonstrate to MLB the club’s fanbase in Oakland.

Fans chanted “Sell, Sell”, while banners at the Coliseum included “Vegas Beware,” “ManFraud,” and “Fisher Out”. Some 27,759 fans were in attendance, the A’s largest home crowd of the season and more than triple the team’s home average of 8,555.

Included in their number was Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao, who told ESPN: “From this point on, I’m rooting for the Oakland A’s fans. If anybody ever doubted the passion of these fans, just look at the sea of green out here. We’re going to continue to work to keep the Oakland A’s in Oakland. Las Vegas deserves a team – an expansion team. But the A’s must stay in Oakland.”

Thao expressed her frustration at how the current situation has come to pass, stating that the City of Oakland and the A’s were “days away” from making a breakthrough on their proposed Howard Terminal stadium project when she received a call from Fisher telling her the team had agreed to a land deal in Las Vegas.

Thao added: “We were so close. We secured $1bn for outside infrastructure, and I truly believe the City of Oakland was being leveraged in the move to go to Las Vegas. That’s why I said no more. No more. It started to feel a little bit abusive in that sense, and that’s why we walked away.”