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Assembly leader: A’s stadium deal running out of time in Nevada Legislature

Tabitha Mueller
Tabitha Mueller
Jacob Solis
Jacob Solis
Howard Stutz
Howard Stutz
EconomyLegislature
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The leader of the Nevada Assembly says the Legislature could “run out of time” on a potential deal to send hundreds of millions of dollars in public money to help construct a baseball stadium in Las Vegas for the Oakland A’s if a proposed bill doesn’t materialize within the next “week or so.” 

Assembly Speaker Steve Yeager (D-Las Vegas) told The Nevada Independent in an interview Wednesday that not only had the A’s not presented “concrete” language to lawmakers on the proposed structure of public money for a new stadium, but that terms of the deal should have already been submitted in order to meet tight deadlines on a shrinking legislative calendar. There are 34 days remaining in the state’s 120-day session, which happens every other year.

“If something was going to happen, it really should have been in place last week,” Yeager said.

The comments come as the team has identified a location for a $1.5 billion stadium complex in Las Vegas but is looking to state lawmakers to approve a $500 million tax package involving tax credits and creation of a special taxation district to help with stadium construction. 

The A’s signed a “binding agreement” with Red Rock Resorts to acquire the site for an undisclosed price. However, the sale has not been finalized and is contingent on the A’s gaining legislative approval for the tax package.

If approval for the package does not come through, the team could withdraw from the agreement to purchase the stadium site.

“There hasn't been a concrete plan that's been presented to the Legislature,” Yeager said. “And I read in the media too, and it seems like every story talks about it in a different way. So in my mind, until there's some kind of concrete ask, there's really not much to discuss.”

The A’s would need approval from the Legislature and the Clark County Commission for the proposed $500 million tax deferment package in which sales taxes and other fees paid by consumers would fund the bonds covering a portion of the construction costs. The tax district would include the stadium and adjacent entertainment venues that would be part of the 49-acre site at Tropicana Avenue and Dean Martin Drive.

Democratic legislative leaders and A’s lobbyists were spotted holding a meeting with A’s President Dave Kaval last week, but to date, no specific bill language has been proposed. Team representatives did not immediately return a request for comment on whether they are close to finalizing and submitting a proposed deal to legislative leadership.

Oakland Athletics President Dave Kaval, right, inside the Legislature for a meeting in Assembly Speaker Steve Yeagerís office on Wednesday, April 26, 2023 in Carson City. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

“Probably another week or so is the timeline for that if something's going to happen, and I'm not really comfortable saying whether or not something is going to happen,” Yeager said. “Because until we know what the proposal is, and what the economic impact might be to the state, it's just really hard to say whether that's something we're going to move or not.”

If a deal isn’t struck during the regular session, the governor could call a special session, but Yeager said he’d prefer to take care of a stadium funding proposal this session before adding that “I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.” 

“In my mind, if we're going to do something, it's better to do it in a regular session than in the special session,” he said.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Gov. Joe Lombardo’s chief of staff, Ben Kieckhefer, said the governor was “excited” about the prospect of bringing the A’s to Las Vegas — but added that the team drafting the potential economic incentive and financing plan “has to do their due diligence.”

“So if that is able to come together quickly, and we can get it done during this legislative session, we would love that,” Kieckhefer said. “If that's not possible, then we'll have to consider other options. But I think it would be our preference to see it happen before the Legislature adjourns sine die.”

The A’s would need approval from the Legislature and the Clark County Commission for the proposed $500 million tax deferment package in which sales taxes and other fees paid by consumers would fund the bonds covering a portion of the construction costs. The tax district would include the stadium and adjacent entertainment venues that would be part of the 49-acre site at Tropicana Avenue and Dean Martin Drive.

Clark County spokesman Erik Pappa said a deal was still in the works.

"The County continues to be involved in discussions about the possibility of public funding for the A’s stadium," he said. "There isn’t anything concrete yet and we don’t know the timing of when a bill would be ready to be introduced."

The CEOs of two of the Strip’s two largest casino operators have expressed support for the proposed stadium and A’s coming to Las Vegas, but were hesitant to back any tax package associated with the stadium project.

“It's important to us that their coming is done in a manner that doesn't unnecessarily tax the county or have taxes that eventually get passed on to our customers,” Caesars Entertainment CEO Tom Reeg said on the company’s first-quarter earnings conference call Tuesday. “So we think there's wood to chop there.”

On Monday, MGM Resorts International CEO Bill Hornbuckle had a similar opinion on his quarterly conference call, saying the company was “not a fan of any more tax dollars put into this. We yield [to] the governor's position and assume that this will be done responsibly for the state and ultimately for Clark County.”

Update - 5/3/23 at 2:28 p.m. — This article was updated to include additional comment from Gov. Joe Lombardo's chief of staff, Ben Kieckhefer, and context on comments made by two Strip CEOs during earnings calls this week. Updated again at 9:15 p.m. to add comment from Clark County spokesman.

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