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Public funding for A’s ballpark faces another legal challenge

Updated February 6, 2024 - 7:36 pm

An education group is challenging the Nevada law providing public funding toward the construction of a ballpark for the Oakland Athletics in Las Vegas.

Strong Public Schools Nevada, a PAC affiliated with the Nevada State Education Association, said in a news release Monday that it filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Senate Bill 1. Signed by Gov. Joe Lombardo in June, the bill would provide up to $380 million in public funds for a $1.5 billion MLB stadium where the Tropicana Las Vegas currently sits on the Strip.

The lawsuit, which was filed in the Carson City District Court on Monday morning, names state treasurer Zach Conine and Gov. Joe Lombardo as defendants.

The organization claims SB1 violates five sections of the Nevada Constitution and that the violations “should lead to the bill’s invalidation.”

“There’s been more planning of a ‘world class’ stadium than there has been implementing a funding plan to ensure a ‘world class’ education for our kids,” Vicki Kreidel, president of the Nevada Education Association of Southern Nevada, said in a news release. “These misguided priorities are why Nevada continually ranks at the bottom of all the good lists.”

The bill violates the state constitution, the lawsuit argues, because it was not passed by a two-thirds majority of both houses in the Legislature despite being a requirement for legislation concerning public revenue.

The lawsuit also argues that the bill authorizes the treasurer to draw “unspecified amounts of money” to support Clark County’s bond debt, violating a provision of the state constitution requiring clear intent and a maximum amount for appropriations.

The lawsuit names Kreidel and Chris Giunchigliani, a former Clark County Commissioner, as plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

This lawsuit follows an effort by “Schools Over Stadiums,” a political action committee formed by the NSEA, to challenge the bill. The group also argued that the law violates the state constitution.

A referendum petition from the group that aimed to get the ballpark funding on the 2024 ballot was invalidated in November by a Carson City District Court judge.

Oakland Athletics lobbyists filed a brief with the Nevada Supreme Court last month highlighting why the lower court decision should be upheld.

Lobbyists argued that the group did not provide the full text of SB1 in their petition referendum.

Major League Baseball approved the relocation of the A’s from Oakland to Las Vegas in November. Current plans call for the new Las Vegas Strip ballpark to be ready for the 2028 season. The Tropicana is scheduled to close its doors April 2 so preparations can begin for the property’s demolition.

The A’s and MLB have not yet announced where the A’s will play for the 2025-27 seasons.

The A’s lease at the Oakland Coliseum expires after the 2024 season.

A spokesperson with Lombardo’s office said it can’t provide comment on pending litigation.

Contact Taylor Lane at tlane@reviewjournal.com. Contact Taylor Avery at tavery@reviewjournal.com.

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