Amended A’s stadium bill would restrict location, resurrect two vetoed bills

Sean Golonka
Sean Golonka
Tabitha Mueller
Tabitha Mueller
Jacob Solis
Jacob Solis
Assemblywoman Sarah Peters (D-Reno) asks questions, directed to Steve Hill and Jeremy Aguero, about SB1 during the 35th special session of the Legislature on June 13, 2023, in Carson City. (Trevor Bexon/The Nevada Independent).

Two extensive amendments to the A’s stadium bill unveiled Tuesday morning would explicitly tie the proposed $1.5 billion baseball stadium site to the location of the Tropicana Las Vegas, expand the scope of the team’s community benefits agreement, speed up the distribution of certain excess revenue into a homelessness prevention fund and revive two bills vetoed earlier this month by Gov. Joe Lombardo.

The changes come after the bill, SB1, came under withering scrutiny in a Senate hearing last week that stalled the special session that Lombardo convened to consider the legislation and pushed negotiations into this week. 

The bill, which proposes up to $380 million in public financing for the stadium, initially came forward late last month with fewer than two weeks remaining in the regular legislative session, before receiving just one hearing and failing to advance before the end of the session.

The amendments could potentially open a path forward for the stadium bill for skeptical lawmakers who had criticized the measure — and, in particular, the lack of specificity within the community benefits agreement — in the initial hearing. A community benefits agreement is a contract a developer signs agreeing to certain conditions such as quotas among construction crews or minimum charity contributions if a project advances. 

In a sign of potential compromise between Democrats and the Republican governor, a second amendment introduced Tuesday morning would resurrect two bills Lombardo recently vetoed

In an email Tuesday morning, a spokesperson for the governor’s office said they had “no comment” on the governor’s stance toward the proposed amendments.

Read more below about the details of the amendments, which were posted online ahead of an informal hearing in the Assembly and a scheduled committee vote on SB1 in the Senate.

Adding back vetoed bills

One of the amendments copies over language from SB299, sponsored by Sen. Edgar Flores (D-Las Vegas), which would have required rail and monorail projects to comply with the state’s prevailing wage law, a move Lombardo criticized in his veto message as something that would “burden” taxpayers on new monorail projects. 

The rail language could affect transportation around the proposed ballpark. For example, bill proponents have said the Boring Company’s Vegas Loop, an underground transportation system relying on Tesla vehicles that operates as a monorail system, could be connected to the stadium site.

The amendment also includes language from SB429, also sponsored by Flores, which would have required companies with more than 50 employees seeking tax abatements from the state to provide their employees with at least 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave a year. The amendment stipulates that employers provide that leave at a rate of at least 55 percent of an employee’s salary. 

The 12-week requirement is substantially higher than Nevada's existing paid leave requirement, which provides about five days of paid leave a year for full-time workers. Lombardo said in his veto message the bill “would place Nevada at a severe disadvantage in its work to bring desirable businesses within its borders.”

Pressed by Sen. Jeff Stone (R-Henderson) during a hearing on Tuesday on whether there was a “nexus” to the bill for both amendments under a “single subject” requirement, Legislative Counsel Bureau General Counsel Kevin Powers pointed to a 1940 court case that gave lawmakers broad discretion in deciding the firm scope of special session legislation, beyond provisions outlined by gubernatorial proclamations.  

“Both of these amendments, we believe, are related to the concept of economic infrastructure, the governor’s proclamation involved economic infrastructure, and the courts will take every reasonable construction to find that the proposed legislation fits within the call of the governor,” Powers said.   

That explanation did not appease Stone, however, who said the amendment restoring two vetoed bills “doesn’t pass the smell test” and “may jeopardize my vote on this very important project for Nevada.” 

Kevin Powers, Legislative Counsel Bureau (LCB) General Counsel, answers questions about SB1 during the 35th special session of the Legislature on June 13, 2023, in Carson City. (Trevor Bexon/The Nevada Independent).
Kevin Powers, Legislative Counsel Bureau (LCB) General Counsel, answers questions about SB1 during the 35th special session of the Legislature on June 13, 2023, in Carson City. (Trevor Bexon/The Nevada Independent)

Location restriction

The latest version of SB1 would restrict the location of a proposed stadium eligible for up to $380 million in public funding to the Tropicana site. The initial version of the bill did not mandate a specific location.

After a yearslong search exploring more than 20 potential stadium sites across the Las Vegas Valley, the Oakland A’s finally settled in April on a desired plot of land at the old Wild Wild West site near the Strip. At the time, the team announced it had a “binding agreement” with Red Rock Resorts to purchase the site.

Then only a few weeks later, the team pivoted, settling on a 9-acre parcel on the site of the Rat Pack-era Tropicana at the corner of Tropicana Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard, just south of the MGM Grand. 

Separately, the new language also changes existing requirements for the team to give an “adequate” contribution to infrastructure costs by adding a list of what that “infrastructure” includes — a list ranging from transportation to pedestrian traffic to “efficient airport operations.” 

Community benefits agreement

As amended, the bill requires a community benefits agreement that must include:

  • Provisions to ensure diversity among workforce, contractors and operators of the stadium
  • Stipulations to pay employees of the stadium project a living wage (an amount not defined in either the amendment or an initial draft of the agreement)
  • Conditions for community engagement, including team players participating in the community, the donation of tickets and programs to support youth baseball in underserved communities
  • Requirements for the team provide a community suite for use by charity groups or other community development organizations
  • Provisions for educational programming such as working with local colleges and universities to provide career development programs for the sports industry and offering scholarships, internships and other mentorship programs
  • A condition that the developer and the company managing the stadium make an “adequate” financial commitment to the community, specifically an annual commitment of cash and in-kind services no less than $500,000 before the stadium opens and no less that $1.5 million or 1 percent of the team’s ticket revenue generated by the stadium project once the stadium is completed and operational.

The amendments emerged following critiques from Flores and several senators during the bill’s hearing last week calling attention to the lack of changes after the bill received a hearing during the regular session. Flores, who sponsored the two vetoed bills added into SB1, pushed in particular for more requirements to be added to the community benefits agreement.

Flores said even after a year of conversation about the Raiders in the leadup to that special session, “the community benefits program that was promised was not delivered.” 

“We are incredibly hesitant,” he said. “The community benefits programs sounded great. But very little of it was actually delivered.”

A proposed community benefits agreement term sheet obtained by The Nevada Independent outlines the “binding terms” of the agreement between the team and the Las Vegas Stadium Authority, which would be responsible for oversight of the stadium project. The proposal notes that upon signing, the team would agree to a minimum community benefits agreement if it relocated to Southern Nevada.

The minimum agreement for the construction workforce diversity is that 51 percent of the construction work must be performed by minority, female, veteran and disabled workers. 

As for stadium operations workforce diversity, the proposed agreement notes that at least 60 percent of event operations should include minority, female, veteran and/or disabled workers. A similar stipulation extends to subcontractors and vendors, requiring that those groups are diverse and subcontractors and vendors hire minority, female, veteran and disabled workers. No less than 15 percent of the direct construction cost must be allocated to small businesses.

The proposed community benefits agreement also includes the establishment of a women veterans grant program to benefit local organizations helping women veterans and a requirement to host appreciation nights and awareness days honoring Pride, Juneteenth, Earth Day and people with disabilities.

Along with team and player participation in educational programs throughout Nevada, the proposed agreement also includes a commitment from the team to include elements from historic Las Vegas neon signs into the stadium design with promotional and financial benefits going to the Neon Museum.

Within educational programming, the proposed agreement specifies that the team will partner with UNLV and the College of Southern Nevada along with other local higher education institutions to offer career development opportunities focused on sports management, broadcasting, journalism and physical therapy. 

The team would also be required to offer scholarships to Nevada residents attending UNLV or the College of Southern Nevada and provide at least 25 paid internships each year to high school and post-secondary students.

Jeremy Aguero, a principal analyst with Applied Analysis, answers questions during the 35th special session of the Legislature on June 13, 2023, in Carson City. (Trevor Bexon/The Nevada Independent).
Jeremy Aguero, a principal analyst with Applied Analysis, answers questions during the 35th special session of the Legislature on June 13, 2023, in Carson City. (Trevor Bexon/The Nevada Independent)

Oversight of community agreement

With lawmakers also seeking greater oversight of the community benefits agreement, the amended bill would require a seven-member baseball stadium community oversight committee to submit annual accountability and progress reports on the agreement to the governor, Legislature and other state and local officials.

Under a new provision in the amendment, the Las Vegas Stadium Authority board would also be required to appoint a director to monitor the team’s compliance with the community benefits agreement.

The proposed community benefits agreement and bill outlines that if the team fails to comply with the agreement, the team must submit noncompliance explanations. The team would also be required to hire subject matter experts to assist with preparing and submitting a plan to address the noncompliance.

If the team fails to comply with the agreement, the Stadium Authority has the ability to take “corrective action” including pursuing legal action against the team.

Public financing 

Though not touching the proposed $380 million cap on public financing for the stadium project, the amendment makes a slew of revisions to the financing details, including requiring more money be repaid to the state for tax credits issued to the project and lowering the state’s cash support for a line of credit to support the issuance of bonds.

Under the bill, the stadium project could receive up to $180 million in transferable tax credits (spread out over the years it takes to develop the ballpark), which the team could sell to other businesses for cash. But as amended, revenues generated by the stadium would be used to pay off any credits issued in excess of $60 million, a downward revision from the $90 million threshold originally proposed. That means the state would be reimbursed through stadium tax revenues for up to $120 million in tax credits, rather than $90 million. 

The amendment also reduces a proposed $25 million appropriation from the state, down to $14 million, to the State Infrastructure Bank for the purpose of providing a credit enhancement on the bonds issued by the county — expected to be around $120 million — to support development of the project.

During a Senate Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday morning, Powers said sections of the bill dealing with the county bonds and state’s line of credit were amended to ensure the state would not be on the hook for the debts of the county (which is prohibited under the Nevada Constitution). The amendment  restricts the state from pledging its full faith and credit as a guarantor of county bonds and ensures the Legislature does not surrender its sovereign power through a long-term commitment of tax revenues to paying the bonds.

The changes would mean future lawmakers are not bound by decisions made by the Legislature this year. In future sessions, lawmakers could change what tax revenues, such as sales tax and payroll taxes proposed to be allocated for the bond repayment, are pledged to help pay off the public funding for the stadium.

Excess revenue ‘waterfall’ and homelessness fund

Envisioned as part of the original bill, any tax revenues in the stadium district — limited to the stadium and immediately adjacent businesses that support the ballpark — that overperform expectations would flow into a “waterfall” of distributed revenue across separate buckets or funding needs. That waterfall would divert some amount of money annually not only to bond repayment and filling up safety reserve balances, but also toward repaying state tax credits and filling a $5 million homelessness prevention fund in Las Vegas’ resort corridor. 

Under the amendment, the stadium district would not be allowed to include any hotels or gaming establishments.

With tax revenues from the district primarily used to pay off county bonds, the original bill also placed the homelessness fund near-last in the waterfall, essentially guaranteeing that the fund would not fill until $90 million in state tax credits had been refunded — a process that would take years, under projections that the site would generate a fraction of that amount annually. 

Under the new language, that waterfall would place the state tax credit repayment and the homelessness fund in the same “bucket,” funding both at the same time. Still, both would remain at the bottom of the waterfall, meaning neither would be funded until stadium tax revenues flow through other parts of the waterfall, including bond repayments and upwards of $5 million annually for a stadium capital reserve fund used to preserve the quality of the stadium.

Under the amendment, tax revenues that reach the end of the waterfall would send 90 percent of the money toward repayment of transferable tax credits while the first $45 million in credits are repaid, with the remaining 10 percent diverted to the homelessness fund (which remains capped annually at $5 million). While the remaining credits up to $75 million are repaid, 80 percent of leftover revenues would be used to repay the tax credits, while 20 percent would go to the homelessness fund.

The amendment would also extend the homelessness fund to all of Clark County, rather than being limited to solely the resort corridor. 

Update: 6/13/22 at 11:18 a.m. — This story was updated to include new information about a second amendment, as well as details from another meeting on the bill in the Senate on Tuesday.


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