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EDITORIAL: Lawmakers should pass public financing for A’s stadium

Updated June 8, 2023 - 4:21 pm

Supporters of the Oakland A’s plan to build a new Las Vegas stadium as part of their proposed relocation to Southern Nevada faced harsh questioning from state lawmakers on Wednesday — and that’s as it should be. Members of the Legislature would be negligent if they didn’t do their due diligence and subject this proposal to the scrutiny it deserves.

At issue during a special legislative session called by Gov. Joe Lombardo, is Senate Bill 1, which would create a funding mechanism to help construct a 30,000-seat, $1.5 billion stadium, now planned for the corner of Tropicana Avenue and the Strip. The legislation would provide the A’s with up to $380 million — a combination of transferable tax credits from the state, county-issued bonds and infrastructure. The club would be responsible for the $1.12 billion remainder of the projected cost. There are no tax increases involved.

There are good faith arguments both for and against this proposal. But while the economic promises surrounding such projects are often overstated, this is about more than economic development. This is about Las Vegas’ long-term evolution as a community. This is about cementing the area’s place as the sports and entertainment capital of the world. This is about making the region a more attractive place to work, live, invest in and visit.

A Major League Baseball team is a coveted attraction. Expansion is rare, as are franchise moves — only one in the past 50 years. While the A’s are currently on pace to set a record for futility, the team has been highly competitive in recent years, making the playoffs 11 times between 2000 and 2020. The organization — which started as the Philadelphia A’s — has a long and storied history as one of the founding members of the American League in 1901. The A’s have played in 14 World Series and won nine championships. A move to Las Vegas would jump-start their revival and provide a family friendly, affordable entertainment alternative for local residents six months a year.

Make no mistake, if lawmakers reject this proposal, Southern Nevada’s chances of becoming home to an MLB franchise down the road will be greatly diminished. Even if MLB eventually adds two teams, the selection process will be highly competitive. It would likely require a much greater financial commitment than that which is sought in SB1. The legislation also looks much better when considered in the context of the money that local officials have already devoted to attracting the Raiders, Formula 1 racing, the Super Bowl and the NFL draft.

This is a unique opportunity for Southern Nevada that has the support of a wide variety of interests from across the political spectrum. Lawmakers should see that SB1 reaches the governor’s desk.

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