Oakland A’s reach ‘tentative’ public finance deal with Nevada leaders, await legislation
The Oakland A’s and major state officials announced Wednesday that they have reached a “tentative” agreement to bring the team to Las Vegas via a multimillion dollar public financing package to help fund construction of a $1.5 billion stadium, but did not include details about the financial commitments by the state and Clark County.
The joint statement, which included comments from Gov. Joe Lombardo, legislative leaders, Clark County and the state treasurer, marks a sizable step forward after weeks of concerns from lawmakers and the county over the scope of the team’s public financing request. However, bill language still needs to be introduced and passed by the Legislature, which is less than two weeks away from adjourning on June 5.
A’s President Dave Kaval said in the statement the team appreciated the support from the state and Clark County. “We look forward to advancing this legislation in a responsible way,” he said.
In a statement Wednesday morning released by Lombardo’s office, the parties said the proposed public financing would be less than 25 percent of the cost of the ballpark, “making it the third-lowest public share” for the 14 Major League Baseball stadiums built this century.
“This agreement follows months of negotiations between the state, the county, and the A’s, and I believe it gives us a tremendous opportunity to continue building on the professional sports infrastructure of southern Nevada,” Lombardo said. “Las Vegas is clearly a sports town, and Major League Baseball should be a part of it.”
The A’s have a “binding agreement” with the companies that control a 35-acre site on the Strip that houses the Tropicana Hotel and Casino. The team is being given 9 acres free of charge to build the stadium.
Sources close to the negotiations told The Nevada Independent on Tuesday that the public financing package would be at least $325 million, significantly less than the $500 million the team originally sought to assist in relocating the franchise to the stadium in Las Vegas.
The Nevada Independent granted anonymity to the sources so they could speak freely about the status of negotiations for the proposed 30,000-seat retractable-roof stadium that A’s hope to open in time for the 2027 season.
As the deal stands now, sources with knowledge of the discussions indicated the state will contribute $180 million in transferable tax credits, of which 50 percent would be refundable — meaning the franchise can trade any excess credits for cash from the state.
Clark County would issue $120 million in bonds (an amount that could change depending on interest rates), a 30-year property tax exemption and a $25 million credit allocated toward infrastructure costs associated with the development agreement.
A source close to the negotiations estimated that the 30-year property tax exemption could be equivalent to almost $55 million over that time period, potentially bringing the total public financing package up to $380 million.
“This tentative agreement minimizes the risk to Nevada taxpayers in the most fiscally responsible manner,” Treasurer Zach Conine said in the statement. “I’m also pleased that this project will leverage the most private investment of any baseball stadium in the country.”
Assembly Speaker Steve Yeager (D-Las Vegas) said he was “excited” to finally receive a proposal from the A’s but said he needed to review it before offering his support.
“No commitment will be made until we have both evaluated the official proposal and received input from interested parties, including impacted community members,” Yeager said. “At the end of the day, any decision will be guided by what is best for Nevadans, our economy and our communities.”
Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro (D-Las Vegas) was also noncommittal, saying in a statement that “we will give this proposal a thorough vetting to fully explore the opportunity and its impacts on Southern Nevada.”
In the governor’s press release, an unnamed Clark County spokesperson said the county believes “it is reflective of the prudent financial practices of Clark County.”
Sources indicated last week that state lawmakers were only willing to contribute up to $195 million in transferable tax credits for stadium construction funding, and a dollar amount had not yet been agreed upon by Clark County. On Friday, Clark County officials said they were concerned taxpayers could end up on the hook to cover debt payments if the stadium wasn’t generating enough revenue.
The A’s initially said they were seeking $500 million in public funding to assist with stadium construction, but in the weeks since, the team announced they were changing the proposed site and reducing the public dollar request to $395 million.
Approval by the Legislature is one sign-off needed by the A’s before construction could start on the ballpark. Major League Baseball’s relocation committee would also need to approve the project by Jan. 1.
The proposed stadium’s proximity to Harry Reid International Airport means the team will also require approval from the Federal Aviation Administration before beginning construction.
“By law, developers must give the FAA the opportunity to evaluate proposed structures near airports to determine whether they could pose a hazard to aircraft or interfere with navigation aids,” a spokeswoman for the FAA said in an email to the Independent. “Each determination is unique. Our determinations identify hazards to air navigation.”
The A’s announced on April 20 it was acquiring 49 acres from Red Rock Resorts for a stadium and entertainment district at Tropicana Boulevard and Dean Martin Road.
On May 15, Tropicana operator Bally’s Corp. and real estate investment trust Gaming and Leisure Properties (GLPI) confirmed a report from a week earlier that the A’s abandoned the Red Rock site. The companies announced they were giving the A’s 9 acres and GLPI said it would provide $175 million for “shared improvements” on the site.
Updated at 4:20 p.m. on 5/23/2023 to include specifics on the agreement.
Updated again at 8:38 a.m. on 5/24/2023 to correct information about refundable tax credits.
Updated at 9:47 a.m. on 5/24/2023 to include comments on the agreement.