Friday, April 21, 2023 | 5:34 p.m.
The Athletics are asking Nevada lawmakers for roughly $500 million in public funding to aid in building an ultramodern baseball stadium right off the Las Vegas Strip, according to a source who has been working closely with the team.
The half-a–billion investment of taxpayer dollars would ultimately be used to help build a $1.5 billion, 35,000-seat ballpark with a retractable dome, said principal analyst Jeremy Aguero of Applied Analysis, a Las Vegas-based research firm consulting for the A’s, as the Major League Baseball team announced this week it has shifted its focus entirely to finding a new home in Southern Nevada.
The A’s have submitted an outline to lawmakers of a plan to finance such a public-private partnership, Aguero said, which the team maintains is essential for building a new stadium and a surrounding entertainment district. To make that happen, the A’s are exploring several funding mechanisms.
“The A’s would put in not less than a billion dollars,” Aguero said, adding that’s on top of the land acquisition deal announced by the team Wednesday for 49 acres at the northeast corner of Tropicana Avenue and Dean Martin Drive. “There’s really three elements that we’ve been considering.”
Details on the land deal have yet to be made public. A spokesman for Red Rock Resorts, Inc., the current owner of the land, referred all comment to the A’s. The lot is the former site of the Wild Wild West casino, which was a casino property managed by Red Rock Resorts subsidiary Station Casinos.
The A’s have zeroed in on a tri-faceted funding plan that would include making the proposed stadium site a special tax district, where tax revenues generated from in and around the stadium would be reinvested back into the project, Aguero said. That includes property, sales, live entertainment and modified business taxes, among others.
“All of the taxes, fees and charges that would otherwise be generated will be put back into the project that would generate revenue that would then be available to support a bond that would be issued by Clark County,” he continued. “The obvious difference between the Raiders deal and this deal is that this deal does not increase taxes. There’s no new tax, no charge, no anything.”
The plan also entails asking for transferable tax credits, similar to the credits that were given to electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla, Inc., in 2014 when it entered into an agreement with the state to build its so-called gigafactory manufacturing plant. The tax credits have also been used in bringing film projects to Nevada, Aguero said.
“Film credits are what they’re most commonly utilized for in the state of Nevada,” Aguero said, adding a third source of public revenue would come through redevelopment tax incentives. “So those three component parts would be utilized to provide a public contribution into the construction of the stadium.”
A’s President Dave Kaval told the Sun this week MLB has imposed a January 2024 deadline to submit a formal application to relocate to Las Vegas from Oakland, where the team has played since 1968. Unless lawmakers in Carson City could strike a deal before the end of the legislative session June 5, a special session would have to be called, Aguero said.
In 2016, a special legislative session was called by then-Gov. Brian Sandoval to approve a public-private partnership to construct Allegiant Stadium, the current home of the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders. That deal entailed $750 million in public dollars that came in the form of municipal bonds issued by Clark County, which were backed by a special tax on hotel rooms along the Resorts Corridor.
In a statement Wednesday, Gov. Joe Lombardo, a Republican, appeared to endorse the idea of the A’s coming to Las Vegas, but has maintained before he would not raise taxes to do so. Top leaders in the Democrat-controlled Legislature have also expressed cautious optimism in getting a deal done.
Democrats have a 28-14 veto-proof supermajority in the Assembly and a 13-8 edge in the state Senate. Assembly Speaker Steve Yeager told the Sun in a statement that lawmakers are still some time from making a definitive decision on a proposal.
“I am excited by the prospect of Nevada gaining yet another major professional sports team and the economic boost it could provide,” Yeager said. “However, no decision will be made until we receive and evaluate an official proposal from the A’s and have heard from key stakeholders and community members.”
Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro was briefed on the A’s proposal earlier this week, said Greg Lademann, executive director of the Senate Democratic legislative caucus. But it’s too early to determine whether this will get the upper chamber’s endorsement, Lademann said in a statement.
“Sen. Cannizzaro has been briefed on the outline of a proposal, and she appreciates the interest the A’s have shown in Las Vegas,” Lademann said. “However, she has not committed to supporting any deal, nor would she without seeing detailed legislative language and discussing it with her caucus.”
Part of Applied Analysis’ work with the A’s included a feasibility study that showed total attendance to the ballpark could average to about 2.6 million visitors per year, of which roughly 1.8 million would be locals, Aguero said. It would also generate about 400,000 incremental tourists, meaning visitors coming to Las Vegas who otherwise would not have.
“They’re coming because they want to see the A’s or they want to see their team play against the A’s,” Aguero said. “Let’s say the World Baseball Classic comes to Las Vegas. They (the incremental visitors) would want to come to Las Vegas and watch that take place here.”
Even if the state accepts terms of a deal, Clark County officials would also need to sign off. In a statement Thursday, county officials said they “are in full support of adding Major League Baseball to our growing sports brand,” but maintained any deal would have to benefit taxpayer interests.
In that sense, all stakeholders involved have to walk a fine line, Aguero said.
“There’s been some preliminary work done on legislation (but) that legislation would have to be perfected,” he said. “We have to create something that state elected officials, including the governor and state leadership, can agree to. There has to be something that county elected officials can agree to. And then it has to be something that is satisfactory to the Oakland A’s.
“So, the idea is to put all those pieces together. We have preliminary versions of how that work, but making sure that they are perfected for all parties is how the deal will get done.”