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Judge rejects ballot referendum for Vegas MLB stadium

Featured image credit: David Vives on Unsplash

Schools Over Stadiums, a group committed to stopping the use of public funds to build a new stadium for the Oakland Athletics in Las Vegas, has seen its proposed ballot referendum petition rejected by a Carson City judge.

The group has been backed by the Nevada State Education Association and is trying to prevent up to $380m (£309m/€355m) in public funding being put towards a 30,000-capacity ballpark for the Major League Baseball team.

However, Schools Over Stadiums suffered a blow this week as a Judge James Russell rejected the ballot proposal on the grounds that the language used was “legally deficient”, according to the Nevada Independent newspaper. The proposal was also described as “confusing” at points by the judge, who sided with trade union-affiliated lobbyists who favour the public financing.

In a statement, Schools Over Stadiums said: “When you take on billionaires, it’s never easy. While the decision is disappointing, it’s not uncommon. Educators overcome obstacles every day, especially in a state ranked 48th in the nation.

“We’re undeterred and still committed to giving Nevada voters the opportunity to decide whether their tax dollars are used to subsidise a billionaire’s stadium. Schools Over Stadiums will appeal this decision to the Supreme Court and/or refile the referendum position. As the judge pointed out, there’s plenty of time before the signature deadline in July of 2024. We remain confident Nevada voters will choose schools over stadiums next November.”

Any petition would need around 102,000 signatures to qualify for a ballot and statewide vote next November.

The Oakland A’s are seeking to build a new $1.5bn stadium in Las Vegas. In June, Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo signed off on a bill that will provide up to $380m in public funding for the ballpark, setting up what will likely be a months-long process for MLB to approve the relocation.

Last month, Mortenson-McCarthy, which has been selected as the construction manager for the stadium, disclosed a tentative timeline for the project. It is hoped that work can begin in April 2025, with a view to completing the project in January 2028.

The stadium will be located on the nine-acre Tropicana hotel site on the Las Vegas Strip and will feature a retractable roof. In May, the A’s reached a binding agreement with Bally’s Corporation and Gaming & Leisure Properties Inc. (GLPI) to build the ballpark on the site.