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Sisolak rules out room tax hike, special session for A’s baseball stadium

Howard Stutz
Howard Stutz
EconomyGamingLegislatureSouthern Nevada
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Gov. Steve Sisolak said he was “not inclined” to call a special session of the Legislature to consider a public financing package to help bring Major League Baseball’s Oakland A’s to Las Vegas.

In an interview Wednesday with The Nevada Independent, Sisolak said he has spoken with representatives of the A’s on multiple occasions this past year about the franchise’s desire to build a $1 billion retractable roof stadium in Las Vegas.

The A’s leadership has been scouting multiple sites for a potential 35,000-seat stadium in Las Vegas, Henderson, Summerlin and other areas of the valley.  

Sisolak said the A’s have inquired about possible public financing for the stadium, but only in generalities.

“They wanted some public money. In what form, they didn't really specify,” Sisolak said. 

The governor said a special legislative session is not in the works.

“I don't have any plans to call one now,” Sisolak said. “Who knows what will come up?"

Sisolak also said an increase in hotel room taxes, the revenue vehicle used to fund $750 million of the nearly $2 billion in costs to build Allegiant Stadium for the Las Vegas Raiders, is not an option.

“They asked about room taxes, and I said that’s not going to happen,” Sisolak said. “I don't know if they know what they're looking for exactly. I explained to them that I didn't want to be a stalking horse. They said they weren’t doing that, and they were serious about this.”

The A’s have been looking at Las Vegas as a new home after Major League Baseball said the team’s current stadium, the 56-year-old Coliseum, is no longer a workable solution. The team and the City of Oakland have not been able to reach a development agreement for a new waterfront baseball park.

In an interview with The Nevada Independent in July, A’s President David Kaval said the team was on a “parallel path” between possibly developing a new stadium in Oakland and possibly moving to a new stadium in Las Vegas.

On Wednesday, CNBC reported that the A’s submitted a bid to Major League Baseball to build a stadium at the site of the Tropicana Las Vegas. The 34-acre site is owned by real estate investment trust Gaming and Leisure Properties, and Bally’s Corp. has a deal to purchase the hotel-casino operations.

“At this time, we can't confirm the CNBC report and do not have any comment,” A’s spokeswoman Catherine Aker said in an email.

Sisolak said the A’s have discussed two sites along Tropicana Boulevard with him – the 100-acre site that houses the Wild Wild West Casino, which is owned by Red Rock Resorts, and a parcel adjacent to UNLV’s Thomas and Mack Center that was originally considered for the Raiders stadium but was rejected by the Federal Aviation Administration as being too close to McCarran International Airport.

A spokesman for Red Rock Resorts could not be reached.

The A’s interest in Southern Nevada comes five years after the Oakland Raiders gained the single-largest-ever pot of public money for a stadium project in the U.S. to help develop the 65,000-seat glass-domed Allegiant Stadium. A special session of the Legislature was needed to approve an increase in the Strip’s 6.5 percent hotel room tax.

Sisolak said he told A’s representatives there are different types of public financing the team could consider. He said infrastructure, such as freeway exits and entrances, could possibly be funded by Clark County.

“It would depend on the property that they selected,” Sisolak said. “If they want to get a tax improvement district, that would be done through the county.”

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