Lombardo signs A’s baseball stadium funding bill; relocation hurdles remain
Gov. Joe Lombardo signed SB1 Thursday, a bill establishing a public financing package of up to $380 million to help fund a proposed $1.5 billion, 30,000-seat baseball stadium in Las Vegas to serve as the new home of Major League Baseball’s Oakland A’s.
The bill — passed by lawmakers Wednesday after a seven-day special session — paves the way for the A’s to secure up to $180 million in transferable tax credits from the state (which the team could sell to other businesses for cash), an estimated $120 million in Clark County bonds and a $25 million credit from the county for infrastructure needs around the stadium.
“I’m excited to officially sign SB1 this afternoon,” Lombardo said in a statement Thursday. “This is an incredible opportunity to bring the A’s to Nevada, and this legislation reflects months of negotiations between the team, the state, the county, and the league. Las Vegas’ position as a global sports destination is only growing, and Major League Baseball is another tremendous asset for the city.”
Team leaders were not present in Carson City for the signing, which took place with little advance notice and no press availability. A’s owner John Fisher and team President David Kaval were in New York Thursday as part of the ongoing Major League Baseball (MLB) owner’s meetings being held this week.
In a statement Thursday afternoon, the team called the bill signing “a significant step forward in securing a new home for the Athletics.”
“We will now begin the process with MLB to apply for relocation to Las Vegas,” the Athletics said. “We are excited about Southern Nevada’s dynamic and vibrant professional sports scene, and we look forward to becoming a valued community member through jobs, economic development, and the quality of life and civic pride of a Major League Baseball team.”
However, a ceremonial signing is expected to be held sometime within the next two weeks in Las Vegas, according to the governor’s office. The A’s leadership is expected to attend.
But the A’s still face hurdles in their path forward moving from Oakland to Las Vegas, including receiving approval from other major league owners for relocating as well as securing at least $1.1 billion in private capital to finance the construction of the ballpark to be situated at the corner of Tropicana Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard on the Strip, where the Tropicana currently sits.
“There is a pretty thorough relocation process that the club now needs to go through as a prelude to a vote of the clubs,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday in New York after a meeting of league owners, adding the timeline would depend “in large part on how quickly the A’s can get their formal relocation application together.”
In those comments, reported by The Athletic, Manfred also said he would not “predict a timeline” on the relocation process, though owners would have to approve the team’s relocation bid prior to Jan. 1 for the A’s to begin development of the Las Vegas ballpark.
Alongside approval for relocation, the team must negotiate with the Las Vegas Stadium Authority — a board that oversees Allegiant Stadium, the home of the Las Vegas Raiders, and will eventually oversee the A’s stadium — to establish a development agreement, lease agreement, non-relocation agreement and a community benefits agreement. Before public financing can take place, the team and any development partner will also have to pay for the first $100 million of ballpark development costs.
The bill signed by Lombardo also includes a number of substantial amendments adopted during a special legislative session this week that tightened the terms and enforcement of the community benefits agreement between the team and the Stadium Authority, explicitly tied the new stadium site to the location of the Tropicana and revived two bills Lombardo vetoed earlier this month.
The Federal Aviation Administration will also need to evaluate and approve the final designs for the ballpark because the stadium site is located about 2 miles from the entrance of Harry Reid International Airport.
This story was updated at 5:18 p.m. on Thursday, June 15, 2023, to include a statement from Gov. Joe Lombardo.
This story was updated at 5:25 p.m. on Thursday, June 15, 2023, to include a statement from the Oakland A's.