Gov. Joe Lombardo has signed SB1, the Oakland A’s stadium bill, which sees the state pledge $380m in public funds for the $1.5bn development.
Subject to MLB sign-off, the Oakland A’s will now work to develop its new ballpark on the site of Tropicana Las Vegas, owned and operated by Bally’s.
This move is a further signal that Las Vegas is aiming to become a big player in the US sporting industry. As well as the A’s moving to the city, Vegas will host the next Super Bowl as well as a Formula One Grand Prix later this year.
“I’m excited to officially sign SB1 this afternoon,” said Gov. Lombardo. “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.”
The political process to reach this point was not a foregone conclusion, as Gov. Lombardo was forced into taking the bill into a special session to push it through. The bill was heavily scrutinized during the session and a string of amendments were proposed, one of which was stipulating the A’s must pay $2m annually to support local communities.
Still, there was significant opposition from some lawmakers, who were quick to point out that Lombardo’s administration refused to stump up extra funds for public services and schools.
Sen. Rochelle Nguyen, who is the Senator for Las Vegas, argued: “I just want to get this correct. You called us in here for a special session and are asking minimally for the state to give you all $36m per year for the next five years for a taxpayer-funded stadium at the same time that the governor has vetoed funding for summer school, a bill to support children’s mental health, a bill requiring paid family leave all because the governor said we couldn’t afford it?”
However, after a few days of deliberation, Lombardo scored a major political victory, finding the support for the bill he was desperate to see pass. Firstly, the Senate voted 13-8 in favor, whilst the assembly concurred in a 25-15 vote, allowing SB1 to reach his desk.
Celebrating the passage of SB1 and heading one step closer to finally relocating after many years of speculation, the A’s described its excitement at the development and said it “looks forward” to providing for the community.
A statement read: “Today is a significant step forward in securing a new home for the Athletics. We thank Nevada Governor Lombardo, Legislative leaders, and Clark County Commissioners and staff for their hard work, support, and partnership. We will now begin the process with MLB to apply for relocation to Las Vegas.”
Despite the political victory, the news isn’t necessarily going down swimmingly back in Oakland, where certain sections of the fanbase are protesting the potential move.
Described as a “reverse boycott”, fans protested the Vegas move at the A’s victory over Tampa Bay Rangers, with some fans demanding that John Fisher sell the franchise.
The Guardian reported that fans chanted “We are here!”, “Sell the team!”, and “Stay in Oakland!” throughout the game.
Nevertheless, the project will continue, with the next step securing the support of fellow MLB franchises.
The A’s statement continued: “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 an MLB team.”