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A’s file to intervene in teacher-union backed stadium funding lawsuit

Updated April 19, 2024 - 3:23 pm

The Oakland Athletics filed a motion to intervene in a teachers union-backed lawsuit aimed at halting the team’s public stadium financing.

On Monday A’s attorneys filed a motion to intervene with the Carson City District Court in the case between plaintiffs Strong Public Schools, a political action committee backed by the Nevada State Education Association. The state of Nevada. Gov. Joe Lombardo, state Treasurer Zach Conine, Clark County and the Las Vegas Stadium Authority are specifically named in the suit as defendants.

The lawsuit, filed in February and amended in March, claims that sections of Senate Bill 1 are unconstitutional.

A motion to intervene allows a third party not noted in a case but has a stake in the outcome of the lawsuit, to join as a defendant if filed in a timely manner and with sufficient grounds for an intervention.

The filing says the A’s believe no other party listed in the lawsuit can adequately represent their interests as an MLB team, its contractual obligations under SB1 and in their planned Las Vegas ballpark.

A’s Vegas progress

The A’s note various milestones have been hit after putting their relocation process into motion following the passage of SB1.

Aug. 17, 2023: A’s submitted their relocation application to MLB.

Aug. 21, 2023: A’s hire Mortenson-McCarthy to serve as their stadium construction manager.

Nov. 16, 2023: MLB owners unanimously approved the A’s relocation to Las Vegas.

March 7: A’s release Las Vegas ballpark renderings.

April 2: The Tropicana hotel closed ahead of its planned October demolition.

Time is a factor

SB1 gave the A’s 18 months from the date of their relocation being approved to enter into a number of agreements with the stadium authority. The means the A’s have until May 2025 to get those agreements in place. The A’s plan to begin construction on their Las Vegas ballpark in April 2025.

The community benefits agreement has already been approved by the stadium authority, with the two sides working on the development, non-relocation and lease agreements.

With the A’s relocation process in motion, if the court found SB1 to be unconstitutional, it would be detrimental to the team and all parties involved in the stadium process, according to the A’s.

A’s President Dave Kaval said in a declaration filed with the court that that missing the deadlines set forth in SB1 risks provisions in the bill being terminated, and “each year of delay would cost the Athletics millions of dollars,” according to Kaval.

Strong Public Schools Nevada plans to oppose the A’s intervention, according to spokesman Alexander Marks.

“Just like the A’s are threatened by the possibility of Nevada voters having an opportunity to vote on the stadium financing in November, the A’s are equally worried about SB1’s constitutionality,” Marks said in an emailed statement. “Schools Over Stadiums and Strong Public Schools Nevada are what stand in the way of John Fisher receiving public money for his stadium.”

SB1 was passed by the Legislature and signed into law last summer by Gov. Joe Lombardo. It earmarks up to $380 million in public funding for the A’s planned $1.5 billion, 33,000-seat Las Vegas Strip ballpark.

The A’s declined to comment on the pending litigation.

The NSEA is also behind the Schools Over Stadium PAC, which is pushing for a ballot referendum petition, in hopes of gathering enough signatures to put SB1 to a public vote in November.

A District Court judge last year struck down the petition, and Schools Over Stadiums appealed the to the Supreme Court. Last week, Supreme Court justices heard oral arguments in the case, with a decision pending.

Schools Over Stadiums has until June 26 to collect over 100,000 signatures from registered Nevada voters who voted in the 2022 election. Each day that passes without a Supreme Court ruling makes it less likely the group will have enough time to obtain the required amount of signatures if the justices rule in their favor.

SOS funding

Despite being a Nevada PAC, Schools Over Stadiums, all noted contributors to the group hail from California.

In three contribution and expense filings to the Nevada Secretary of State, the latest being Monday, Schools Over Stadiums has seen $66,480 from seven donors since July. All seven contributors listed of those who have donated $1,000 or more, have California addresses listed.

Schools Over Stadiums listed $114,567 in expenses over that same time frame. Their expenses are mostly tied to attorney fees and nearly $2,500 to an Oakland-based communications firm.

The group has solicited donations from people at various A’s fan group events in Northern California. Strong Public Schools listed $0 in both expenses and contributions in its latest filing on April 15.

“We have many Nevada donors,” Marks said. “They are joined by contributions from around the country as publicly funded stadiums are becoming more unpopular by the day.”

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on X.

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