The possibility of the Oakland Athletics relocating to Las Vegas remains uncertain due to the need for modifications in a bill seeking public funding for their stadium with a special session having finished in the wee hours of Wednesday, June 7th.
During a recent special session held in Nevada, legislators expressed skepticism and criticism regarding the proposed plan, which entails $380 million in public funding. As the session stretched into the early hours of the morning, no decision was reached. You can read some more details about the whole thing here, courtesy of Evan Drellich of The Athletic.
Another extra session has been called for Thursday, June 8th, and it's expected to kick off at 11:30 a.m. PT. No need to mention nobody has the smallest clue of what might happen then and there, as it's been the case for days on end.
State Senator Rochelle Nguyen questioned the need for the state to allocate hundreds of millions of dollars to a billionaire team for a stadium on valuable Las Vegas Strip property, especially when critical resources like summer school funding, support for children's mental health, and paid family leave were vetoed by the governor due to budget constraints.
Steve Hill, CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, acknowledged that he and Jeremy Aguero, a principal involved in the A's stadium project, were not in a position to address certain questions. However, Hill argued that the new stadium would generate thousands of jobs. Which, yeah right?
The proposed bill outlines the construction of a $1.5 billion, 30,000-seat stadium on the nine-acre site of the Tropicana Hotel. Advocates of the bill claim that the A's would contribute at least $1.1 billion, with public funding capped at $380 million.
Some senators expressed annoyance at the need for a special session to discuss the A's bill, following the recent closure of the regular legislative session and the concerns about more pressing and important issues such as teacher salaries and a much-needed boost to in-state education matters.
A's president Dave Kaval faced questions from State Senator Fabian Doñate regarding the team's willingness to pay a live entertainment tax, to which Kaval stated that the current proposal did not include such payment. However, he emphasized that the team would contribute to the community in other ways.
No need for more details. The keyword is "faced," not "answered in a clarifying and revealing way," in case you had not realized.
During the session, State Senator Dallas Harris raised concerns about potential risks and the opportunity cost of redirecting funds from the stadium to education or infrastructure. Aguero acknowledged the project's inherent risks for both the A's and the state of Nevada. He argued that not pursuing the project would result in a loss of $366 million in available funds.
Aguero suggested that Las Vegas differs from other towns due to its robust visitor economy, warranting a different approach to assessing the impact of stadium subsidies. However, he later softened his stance, recognizing that criticism of subsidies elsewhere could be valid.
Economist J.C. Bradbury cautioned against accepting arguments like Aguero's without skepticism, emphasizing the need for critical evaluation. Aguero also mentioned that various aspects in the state of Nevada are subsidized.
Senator Hansen had another extraordinarily simple question to pitch to Fisher and Kaval: "Why are they leaving Oakland?"
Other topics raised during the session included concerns about job opportunities and fair wages for Tropicana hotel workers, as well as the speed of the process and the team's acquisition strategies.
Earlier on Wednesday, Congresswoman Barbara Lee wrote a letter to Commissioner Rob Manfred that made the rounds on Twitter, expressing her criticism of Major League Baseball's support for the A's relocation to Las Vegas.
Lee argued that such encouragement contradicted the rationale for the league's century-old exemption from federal anti-trust law and called for reconsideration of efforts to subsidize or encourage the team's departure from the East Bay area in Oakland.
The future of the A's relocation to Las Vegas remains uncertain, pending modifications to the bill and further deliberations among legislators and stakeholders. The next Special Session has been called for Thursday, June 8th at 11:30 a.m. PT.
No A's game today, so I guess that's a positive as we'll only need to focus on the court streams and not on any actual on-field action. Sheesh.