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Sisolak, county officials: No tax money for A’s ballpark

Updated November 7, 2022 - 12:36 pm

Although the Oakland Athletics are looking for public financial assistance if they are to move to Las Vegas and build a MLB ballpark, state and local officials say the appetite to provide that is not there.

Gov. Steve Sisolak, who played a major role in the deal that landed the Raiders $750 million in public funds that went toward the construction of Allegiant Stadium and ultimately landed the Raiders in Las Vegas, said Saturday that type of deal isn’t on the table for the A’s.

The Raiders’ tax deal, a 0.88 percent hotel room tax in Clark County set up to recoup the massive investment, was a one-time thing for pro sports, Sisolak said. With Las Vegas proving to be a thriving major league professional sports market, there isn’t a need to offer additional tax money to other leagues, Sisolak said.

“We (the state) can’t build any more stadiums,” Sisolak said. “We built one, Allegiant, we contributed to one.”

But there are ways officials can sweeten the pot, outside of offering a direct tax toward funding a stadium, Sisolak noted.

“Whether it’s infrastructure that we can help with, exit on-ramps, we’re putting a lot of money into the Tropicana interchange, to get ready for Allegiant,” Sisolak said. “We can help with that sort of thing.”

Following MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred’s comments about his skepticism that a deal gets done in Oakland for their planned $12 billion Howard Terminal project, centered around a $1 billion ballpark, Las Vegas is in a position to swoop in and bring the team to Southern Nevada, a source with knowledge of the situation told the Review-Journal last week.

But that golden opportunity needs to include a golden egg, with the source indicating some form of public assistance is a requirement. If area officials do not offer public funds, the A’s plan to begin relocation talks with other markets, the source indicated.

Sisolak said he’s been in regular contact with Manfred and A’s President Dave Kaval and has relayed to both that there is no desire from the state to offer public tax dollars to help finance the construction of a ballpark.

“I talk to Commissioner Manfred regularly, they (MLB) understand,” Sisolak said. “I talk to Kaval and Dave gets it.”

The A’s have been down to two sites for a ballpark in Las Vegas for several months. The Tropicana site on the south Strip and the Las Vegas Festival Grounds on the north Strip.

Last week the CEO of Bally’s Corp., who owns the Tropicana, said they are still in talks with the A’s about building a MLB stadium on the site. Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom said last week that talks between the A’s and hotel magnate Phil Ruffin are also still ongoing regarding the festival grounds site, which is located in his district.

Segerblom is also firmly against offering the A’s public funding, as he was when he was in the state senate when the Raiders’ deal was ultimately approved during a 2016 special session of the Legislature. He did note another potential avenue officials could take to help lure the A’s to Las Vegas.

“From my perspective, public money is still not an option,” Segerblom said. “It (festival grounds) is in a redevelopment area, so we could give them some tax increment financing and do other things with our redevelopment authority that might help them out. But I don’t sense an appetite to do what they did with the Raiders.”

Clark County Commissioner Michael Naft has been adamant that he wouldn’t be in favor of offering the A’s public funds since the team began researching the area in May of 2021. With the team’s exact vision for Southern Nevada still unclear, Naft hasn’t wavered on this stance.

“I remain skeptical,” Naft said. “Like I’ve said all along, when the Raiders came in, they came in with a clear plan. They came in with concise vision and they were able to justify why that investment, on behalf of the community, would be worth it for the long term. I’ve not seen that from MLB or the team.”

Before any further details can be worked out, the team needs to announce its intended Las Vegas ballpark site.

“They still haven’t come up with a location that they’re going to move forward with,” Sisolak said. “There are still talks with a couple and we’ll see what they will do. I think we’ll get down to details (once a site is chosen) but we’re not going to use public money to build another stadium.”

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

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