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Lombardo doesn’t rule out public funding for A’s

Updated February 15, 2023 - 7:35 pm

Gov. Joe Lombardo was mum Monday on what public assistance the Oakland Athletics could receive should they choose to relocate to Las Vegas and build a $1 billion ballpark.

That said, he didn’t rule it out.

“Those negotiations are so early in the process that it would be detrimental for me to even talk about any details,” Lombardo told the Review-Journal. “Right now it’s all been ancillary conversations.”

Last month Lombardo, through a spokeswoman, said he is not in favor of raising taxes to assist the A’s or any other team to set up shop in Las Vegas. But he hinted that the team could be eligible for existing state economic development programs.

What Lombardo said Monday leaves that door open.

Working to bring new professional franchises and major sports events to Las Vegas is on Lombardo’s agenda, he said. During the first 13 months of his governorship there are a string of major sporting events planned.

The NFL Pro Bowl already occurred earlier this month, which drew more than 50,000 people to Allegiant Stadium. In March, the NCAA men’s basketball West Regionals will take place at T-Mobile Arena, marking the first time a portion of March Madness will occur in Las Vegas.

Then in November, the inaugural Formula One Las Vegas Grand Prix will take place on portions of Las Vegas Boulevard and surrounding surface streets.

Lombardo has already built up a rapport with those behind F1 and the race, even hosting Formula One President and CEO Stefano Domenicali and LV Grand Prix CEO Renee Wilm at his State of the State address last month.

“Fantastic,” Lombardo said of his relationship with Formula One. “Steve Hill with the LVCVA has done a fantastic job interacting with them. We’re excited to bring them into the state of Nevada and be their host. It’s going to be a fantastic deal for us.”

With the Clark County Commission last week unanimously approving to recognize the Las Vegas Grand Prix as an annual event for at least 10 years, it appears the race will be held in Southern Nevada for the foreseeable future.

“Long-term stability on the economic front,” Lombardo said.

Following that, Super Bowl LVIII will be held at Allegiant Stadium on Feb. 11, 2024. Lombardo took part in a Super Bowl hand-over event Monday in Phoenix.

“That’s obviously fantastic (to host a Super Bowl),” Lombardo said. “But I don’t want to make light of all the other different events that we do have in the Las Vegas Valley.

“We also have a big deal coming on with the F1 race too. Then all of the things that we’ve done with the Pro Bowl and everything else. I’m excited about the opportunity of taking on the challenge of hosting the Super Bowl. I think we’ll do a great job.”

The A’s are nearly two years into their relocation efforts in Las Vegas. The team has cut a Southern Nevada site list that once was more than 20 down to two, the Tropicana on the south end of the Strip and the Las Vegas Festival Ground site on the north end.

The A’s are also still working in Oakland toward a potential $12 billion mixed-use development project, centered around a $1 billion waterfront stadium at Howard Terminal.

Earlier this month casino owners and executives from the north Strip and Downtown Las Vegas met with A’s owner John Fisher and team president Dave Kaval, pledging their full support for the team to build a 35,000-seat, retractable roof stadium at the festival ground location.

Casino magnate Phil Ruffin, who owns the festival grounds land, declined to comment at the time of the meetings.

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

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