Teacher-led PAC files petition to block public funding for A’s stadium in Vegas
An effort to halt the public financing package approved by Nevada lawmakers in June for a Major League Baseball stadium in Las Vegas formally launched Wednesday when a political action committee formed by the statewide teachers union filed a referendum petition with the secretary of state’s office.
The campaign, “Schools Over Stadiums,” wants voters to repeal the $380 million in financing lawmakers agreed to in a special session following contentious legislative hearings with representatives of the Oakland Athletics. The team is seeking to relocate to Las Vegas.
The PAC was launched in June by the Nevada State Education Association following the approval of SB1, which authorized financing to the A’s toward the construction of a 33,000-seat ballpark on the Las Vegas Strip.
“Schools Over Stadiums has been committed to pursuing every possible path to stop the use of public funds to subsidize a billionaire’s stadium and that has always included putting the question to Nevada voters who were effectively shut out of the process,” NSEA President Dawn Etcheverry said in a statement. “Nevada’s priorities are misguided and when we launched Schools Over Stadiums in June, our goal was to ensure that public funds go to the services Nevadans depend on like our public schools, not to a California billionaire for a stadium.”
NSEA spokesman Alexander Marks said PAC has not yet hired a signature-gathering firm for the effort.
“We have been in conversations with several firms, and we will be working with our volunteers in the meantime,” Marks said.
An A’s spokesperson could not be reached for comment.
To get an initiative or referendum on the ballot that proposes or repeals language for state law, a petitioner must obtain signatures from at least 10 percent of the voters in the previous general election — meaning that at least 102,586 signatures are needed. At least 25,647 signatures would need to come from each of the state’s four congressional districts.
The petitioners must collect and submit signatures by July 8, 2024. If a petition receives enough signatures and a simple majority of Nevadans vote in favor of the corresponding ballot question, it would pass and change state law.
After much discussion and several amendments, lawmakers passed the bill that committed up to $380 million in public financing through a combination of tax credits and county-issued bonds. The proposed $1.5 billion baseball stadium is set to be built on 9 acres of a 35-acre parcel that houses the Tropicana hotel and casino.
The special session took place after lawmakers failed to pass a stadium funding bill in the regular 120-day session on account of a budget standoff between the governor and Democratic legislative leaders.
The A’s are waiting for Major League Baseball to approve the team’s relocation request. The proposed stadium in Las Vegas is not expected to be ready until the start of the 2028 major league season.
In its statement, the NSEA said state lawmakers “failed to hear a single bill to reduce Nevada’s overcrowded classrooms.”
“This referendum petition will target specific parts of Senate Bill 1 to strip public funding for the proposed stadium regardless of what state and county officials agree to do in any sort of development deal,” Marks said in a statement.
NSEA, a branch of the National Education Association that has affiliates in every Nevada school district but is not recognized as the formal bargaining unit for a majority of the state's teachers, might be going at it alone in the effort to repeal the legislation that saw wide support from unions across the state, including Culinary Workers Local 226 and the Nevada State AFL-CIO.
The A’s previously signed a project labor agreement with the Southern Nevada Building Trades covering the stadium and has an agreement with the Culinary to organize the ballpark’s employees. The team was the title sponsor for the Nevada AFL-CIO convention at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno last month.
The Clark County Education Association (CCEA), which is not affiliated with NSEA and is the official bargaining unit for 18,000 licensed educators, including teachers, in the Clark County School District, is not backing the petition. CCEA and the statewide union have been at odds since 2018 when the former broke off from NSEA.
“We’re not involved, and we wouldn’t follow the lead of an irrelevant organization,” Clark County Education Association Executive Director John Vellardita said in June, adding that Democrats passed the bill, a Republican governor signed it, and the stadium seems like a settled matter.