Las Vegas faces long odds as backup for A’s stadium plan

Nevada governor reluctant to use public funds on a new baseball venue

Nevada Governor Steve Sioslak with 7000 Joe Morgan Way
Nevada Governor Steve Sioslak with 7000 Joe Morgan Way (Getty, MLB)

The Oakland A’s might have to think of another Plan B if their new stadium at Howard Terminal falls through.

While the team has indicated a move to Las Vegas would be imminent if a deal cannot be worked out with the city of Oakland, Nevada has signaled it might not be ready to make the investment the move would require.

According to a report by the New York Post, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred signaled to Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak and the A’s that he will not approve the move unless Nevada provides some public financing for a $1 billion-plus, 30,000-seat, domed stadium. That’s because Manfred does not want to set a bad precedent for other owners looking to negotiate new stadium deals. But Sioslak appears reluctant to commit to the hundreds of millions of subsidies that would be necessary to build the stadium.

While Sioslak did not confirm the report, his office said that any new hotel room tax is off the table. A $2-per-room tax was used to provide $750 million to build Allegiant Stadium, the new home of the NFL Raiders.

“The governor has been clear from the start that he would not consider a room tax package for this potential move,” said Meghin Delaney, spokesperson for Sisolak, in a statement. “The governor and his team will continue to pursue bringing business opportunities to Nevada to further cement our status as the sports and entertainment capital of the world.”

Sisolak’s reluctance could be justified as he is in a hotly contested reelection battle this November, and other governors have faced criticism from some of their constituents for providing public funds for new sport stadiums. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has received backlash for proposing $850 million in public funds for the Buffalo Bills to build a new stadium not located in their home city.

The A’s have used the prospect of leaving town for Las Vegas as a negotiating tool with the city to work out an agreement for a new stadium. Without this leverage, the team could be forced to make some concessions, such as agreeing to have at least 15 percent of the housing units built along with the project be affordable. In the past, the team has indicated they would not be willing to go above 5 percent.

In some ways, the team’s pursuit of a new stadium has been more of a story than its disappointing season. The A’s currently rank last in the American League West division, having won only 36.3 percent of games.

On the stadium front, while initially facing opposition from community members and elected officials, the team scored major legislative victories with The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission voting to allow the terminal to be used as other than a port, and the Oakland City Council denying a referendum on the November ballot to let voters decide whether to use public funds on the project.

However, the team has continued to face opposition from community members who believe the city should prioritize other issues, and labor unions that want to keep Howard Terminal operating as a port. Progress on the stadium has been halted recently by a lawsuit stating the Conservation and Development Commission did not adequately assess the environmental impact of the project.

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Rendering of new stadium project at Howard Terminal, Port of Oakland with Oakland A's president Dave Kaval (BKF Engineers, GSB.Stanford.edu)
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