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After state funding, what comes next for new Athletics ballpark?

new Vegas A's ballpark

After Gov. Joe Lombardo signed special-session legislation providing a chunk of funding for a new Athletics ballpark, Oakland team officials may have more clarity on their next actions–but the hard work is just beginning.

As expected, Lombardo signed the legislation yesterday turning SB1 into law. The state is now committed to providing $180 million in transferrable state tax credits for the A’s while ordering Clark County to cover $145 million on ballpark costs ($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 legislation passed both the Senate and Assembly easily.

“I’m excited to officially sign SB1 this afternoon,” Lombardo said in a statement before the signing, which took place privately with no press on hand. “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.”

Neither team owner John Fisher or president Dave Kaval were present for the signing; they were at the MLB owners meetings in New York City. They did issue the following statement:

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.

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 a Major League Baseball team.

With the financing component addressed, the A’s now face a slew of other equally daunting challenges. The first, and perhaps the biggest, is figuring out how to actually pay for the $1.5-billion ballpark: the state financing of $120 million is less than 10 percent of the total cost (barring overruns, of course), and insiders peg the amount the A’s must raise is at least $1.2 billion. Once the financing is arranged, work can begin on the facility expected to open in 2028. MLB approval is also required–and barring some issues on the financing front, this is expected to be done before the end of the year with little debate in MLB circles–and the A’s will also need to figure out where to play in 2025-2027. Las Vegas Ballpark, home of the A’s is the obvious choice, but not an automatic one, as Sacramento has been discussed as well because of potentially higher media revenues. (We covered it here.) The team must work out a lease with their new landlord, the Las Vegas Stadium Authority, to finalize a lease that includes a 30-year commitment to Vegas, and a community benefits agreement. And then there’s issue of FAA review of the ballpark design because of the ballpark’s proximity to Harry Reid International Airport. Technically, the FAA doesn’t actually approve construction plans; it merely recommends the local government on whether a building will impact airport operations.

Rendering courtesy Oakland A’s.

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