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State aid for new Athletics ballpark dead–for now

new Vegas A's ballpark

The Nevada Legislature adjourned last night without either chamber taking up proposed financial aid for a new Athletics ballpark, though the bill could be revived via a special session called by Gov. Joe Lombardo.

SB509 would set up $180 million in transferrable state tax credits for the A’s and order Clark County to cover $145 million–$120 million directly in bonds for the ballpark and $25 million for infrastructure credits–backed by a sales-tax and payroll tax revenue generated by the ballpark. The total size of the package is capped at $380 million, part of the financing plan for a $1.5-billion, 35,000-seat retractable-roof ballpark at the current Tropicana resort site.

The bill received an initial hearing before a joint committee–which didn’t go that well–but never received another committee hearing and pretty much lost in the shuffle as the Legislature headed for a June 5 adjournment.

This doesn’t close the door on the proposal. As noted, Lombardo can call a special session limited to consideration of this specific bill. (Technically, a special session can also be called by two-thirds of the Legislature, but this doesn’t seem to be a very likely scenario.) As of early this morning there was no indication Lombardo was inclined to call a special session, and we may need to wait for any final decision; for a variety of reasons there’s no impending pressure to make a decision one way or another. Presumably Lombardo would meet with legislative leaders to gauge interest in the bill: if there’s no interest from legislators, there’s little incentive for Lombardo to call a special session and have his proposal shot down. There’s not been a whole lot of support from legislators to this point.

One thing to keep in mind: passage of this funding bill is far from a guarantee the A’s end up at a ballpark on the Strip. If the state approves and Clark County follows suit, MLB owners would need to sign off on the deal (a vote once potentially set for next week has been scrapped) and the A’s would need to finalize financing.

Of course, even though it’s been six hours or so since the Legislature adjourn, tongues will inevitably wag about the future of the A’s. Will John Fisher and Dave Kaval come cap in hand and plead for reconsideration of a Howard Terminal ballpark, perhaps a scaled-down version? Will Fisher throw in the towel and sell the team to Salt Lake City or Portland investors? Will he cast about for a new location for a ballpark, like Sacramento? Let the drama begin.

Rendering courtesy Oakland A’s.

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