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A’s, Nevada legislators close to finalizing Las Vegas ballpark deal

Updated May 23, 2023 - 6:06 pm

The Oakland Athletics and state lawmakers are inching closer to a deal that would see up to $380 million in public money go toward the team’s planned $1.5 billion Las Vegas major league ballpark, a person with knowledge of the negotiations told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The public contribution would include $180 million from the state in transferable tax credits, of which $90 million would be repaid over time from stadium revenues.

Clark County would contribute $150 million. Of that total, $125 million would come from bonds taken out by the county and repaid from a tax district set up around the proposed Tropicana Las Vegas stadium site. The county also would agree to pay for $25 million in infrastructure improvements to the stadium site.

The total public funding commitment would fall between $350 million and $380 million, depending on when the bonds are purchased and the interest rate tied to them.

The A’s would be responsible for any amount that surpasses $380 million, the source indicated.

“You don’t get a better deal than this for a Major League Baseball team,” one source said.

The funding setup will be included in the A’s stadium bill, which could be filed as soon as Wednesday, the source said. The bill would still need to be passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Joe Lombardo.

If that happens, it would pave the way for the team’s relocation to Southern Nevada and end its yearslong pursuit of a replacement for the dilapidated Oakland Coliseum, one of the oldest and worst stadiums in MLB. The A’s could move into the new ballpark as soon as 2027.

The A’s couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday.

Clark County officials had expressed concern about what would happen if the tax district fails to generate enough revenue to cover bond payments each year, a source indicated. To address those concerns, the state will have a credit enhancement in place. It will be used to improve the chances of repayment.

Additionally, a two-year debt reserve account for bond payments will be amassed by the time ballpark construction is complete.

The reserve account has important precedent. When the Raiders’ stadium funding bill was passed by the Legislature in 2016, it included a two-year debt reserve account to guarantee bond payments. The fund was set up to cover two years worth of bond payments in the event that no tax revenue, via a new 0.88 percent tax on hotel rooms in Clark County, was being generated.

That debt reserve was tapped twice in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic because of reduced visitation to Las Vegas. That fund has bounced back amid robust Las Vegas tourism. As of April, Allegiant Stadium’s debt reserve was 91 percent funded, with $81.8 million.

The A’s won’t have to pay for land for the Las Vegas stadium. Gaming and Leisure Properties Inc. is giving the A’s 9 acres on the Tropicana site.

Ownership of those nine acres would be transferred to the Las Vegas Stadium Authority upon completion of the ballpark. The stadium authority took ownership of Allegiant Stadium and the land it sits on following its completion in 2020.

The land transfer is contingent on the construction of a stadium.

The A’s initially were looking to land up to $500 million in public financing when they announced last month that they planned to build a ballpark on a portion of 49 acres at the site of the former Wild Wild West property, on the northwest corner of Tropicana Avenue and Dean Martin Drive. The ballclub entered a binding agreement with Station Casinos parent company Red Rock Resorts at that time.

Earlier this month, Tropicana owner Bally’s Corp. and GLPI, which owns the land the Tropicana sits on, announced they had entered a binding agreement with the the A’s for 9 acres of the 35-acre site. If the ballpark plan is approved, Bally’s would demolish the Tropicana and have an option to build a new megaresort on the remaining acreage.

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter. Contact Steve Sebelius at ssebelius@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0253. Follow @SteveSebelius on Twitter.

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