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Nevada legislators skeptical of state A’s ballpark funding

new Vegas A's ballpark

A special session of the Nevada Legislature called to address $380 million in state and county money for Oakland A’s ballpark funding featured plenty of lawmakers openly skeptical of the proposal.

The special session, called by Gov. Joe Lombardo, is to debate passage of SB1–the updated version of SB509 from the regular session–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.

This is possibly the worst-timed special session in Nevada Legislative history: this year’s session ended on Monday after a protected spat between legislators and Lombardo over a variety of topics, with Lombardo forced to call another special session to pass a contentious budget that seemed to please no one. So with the stench of that battle still lingering in the halls of the capital, lawmakers were forced to confront an issue they refused to take up during the regular session. The A’s ballpark funding bill received just a single hearing; neither body came close to a vote on the matter.

And that resentment came through during debate of the bill in the Senate. (The Assembly will take up the bill if it passes the Senate.) From the Nevada Independent:

Several Democratic senators who aired concerns with the size of the proposed public funding package also pointed to bills whittled down during the legislative session or vetoed by Lombardo, questioning why the state should approve up to $380 million for a baseball stadium when legislation seeking to fund health care and other programs failed.

“The people that we represent don’t expect us to come here and rubber stamp [this],” Sen. Pat Spearman (D-North Las Vegas) said. “We have to do our due diligence because this is a lot of money.”

Others said they wanted changes to the bill.

“To say I’m extremely disappointed that no work has been done on this bill over the past 10 days is an understatement,” Sen. Rochelle Nguyen (D-Las Vegas) said. “We are literally looking at the same bill that was presented.”

Still, if you’ve spent a lot of time around legislative bodies, you know just because there are some loud voices in opposition doesn’t mean there’s not a majority in favor. A vote in the Senate is expected today.

Rendering courtesy Oakland A’s.

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