Jeff Passan, ESPNJun 13, 2023, 06:41 PM ET
- ESPN MLB insider
Author of “The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports”
The Nevada Senate passed a $380 million bill on Tuesday to help fund a new stadium for the Athletics in Las Vegas, the first step toward the expected move of the franchise from Oakland.
After days of questioning from lawmakers about the wisdom of using public tax dollars to support a team owned by billionaire John Fisher, two amendments to the bill added Tuesday morning prompted a 13-8 vote in favor of the project.
While multiple steps remain to finalize the A’s move, the passage of Senate Bill 1 — in a special session called by Gov. Joe Lombardo, a proponent of Las Vegas adding a baseball team to the NHL’s Golden Knights and NFL’s Raiders — paves the way for it to happen. If the 42-person Nevada Assembly approves it by a majority vote and Lombardo signs the bill into law, MLB owners plan to authorize the A’s to relocate and end the team’s half-century-plus-long tenure in Oakland.
The passage of the Senate bill came on the same day A’s fans held a so-called “reverse boycott,” in which they showed up to the moribund Oakland Coliseum wearing shirts that said “SELL” and encouraged Fisher to unload the team rather than move it. A’s fans have abandoned the team this season after a Fisher-forced fire sale led to a depleted roster and the worst record in baseball at 18-50.
Instead of a potential expansion team, Las Vegas would inherit the A’s, who have proposed a 30,000-seat stadium — the smallest in MLB — on a nine-acre plot at the site of the Tropicana Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. The original bill did not include specifics on the stadium site, which changed after the A’s announced in April they’d had a “binding agreement” for a larger parcel of land.
By making their intention to move to Las Vegas public, the A’s sought to end more than 20 years of uncertainty. Failed moves to San Jose and Fremont, California, left them pursuing a new stadium in Oakland for the past decade. While there was momentum on a waterfront project at Howard Terminal site — Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao told ABC7 in the Bay Area that “we are very close to a deal” if Fisher were to sell the team — he instead continued to pursue the $1.5 billion stadium in Las Vegas.
After the original bill met resistance from officials, senators met with A’s officials and received improvements, including the use of a suite at the stadium for community groups, an annual $1.5 million donation to the community and resources toward helping homelessness in Las Vegas.
Additionally, two other measures that had been vetoed by Lombardo — providing 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave for certain businesses and forcing monorail projects to comply with the state’s wage laws — were tied into the bill.