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Oakland A’s score legal win in Las Vegas stadium public funding battle

Updated November 7, 2023 - 7:13 pm

A District Court judge ruled Monday in favor of the Oakland Athletics fight against a political action committee’s attempt to put public financing for a planned Las Vegas ballpark on next year’s ballot.

District Judge James Todd Russell decided for the plaintiffs in a lawsuit brought by A’s lobbyist Danny Thompson and Thomas Morley against Schools Over Stadiums. His ruling in Carson City determined that Schools Over Stadiums — a PAC created by the Nevada State Education Association — would have to refile its referendum petition with the full text of Senate Bill 1, or appeal the decision to a higher court.

Thompson and Morley’s lawyer Brad Schrager wasn’t immediately available for comment.

A spokesman for Schools Over Stadiums said the PAC would likely appeal the decision or refile its petition.

“While the decision is disappointing, it’s not uncommon,” said Alexander Marks, Schools Over Stadiums’ spokesperson. “Schools Over Stadiums will appeal this decision to the Nevada Supreme Court and/or refile the referendum petition. As the judge pointed out, there’s plenty of time before the signature deadline in July of 2024.”

Schools Over Stadium’s initial petition filed in September only highlighted portions of the SB1 that were targeted by the group. In response Thompson and Morley filed their lawsuit aimed at halting the petition, claiming it was misleading.

The group cannot begin collecting the needed 102,362 verified signatures of registered voters who voted in the 2022 general election needed to get the matter on next year’s ballot until they refile or a higher court reverses the judge’s decision. If the PAC is successful in obtaining the needed signatures, Nevada voters would be able to decide the fate of the stadium’s financing.

Schools Over Stadiums would need to collect the required signatures by July 8 to get the stadium funding initiative on the 2024 ballot.

SB1 provides the A’s up to $380 million in public funding to go toward their planned $1.5 billion, 33,000-seat Strip ballpark.

Marks said Schools Over Stadiums remains committed to its goal.

“We’re undeterred and still committed to giving Nevada voters the opportunity to decide whether their tax dollars are used to subsidize a billionaire’s stadium,” he said. “We remain confident Nevada voters will choose schools over stadiums next November.”

The A’s are also hoping good news awaits them next week, as the vote on their planned Las Vegas relocation is expected to occur at the MLB owners meetings in Arlington, Texas. The A’s need 75 percent of the 30 team owners to vote in favor of their planned move to Southern Nevada.

If that vote is successful, approving the A’s relocating from Oakland to Las Vegas, the team will continue working with the Las Vegas Stadium Authority to finalize various agreements to create the structure to use the public funding for construction of the team’s Strip ballpark.

The A’s also will need to work with Tropicana owner Bally’s Corp. on when the Rat Pack-era hotel would be demolished, to make way for the new stadium to be built on 9 acres of the 35-acre site. Last month A’s ballpark construction manager Mortenson-McCarthy detailed a preliminary ballpark construction timeline. That highlighted stadium construction beginning in April 2025, with completion pegged for January 2028.

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

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