Gov. Steve Sisolak on Friday refuted reports that he would block the Oakland Athletics from moving to southern Nevada due to a request for millions of dollars in government grants for a new ballpark.
Sisolak reiterated Friday that he does not support another room tax to fund a new ballpark for the A’s, a stance he has repeated repeatedly since the prospect of the A’s relocating to Las Vegas s is presented for the first time.
He also said public funding for a ballpark “hasn’t been an issue” in his conversations with Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred or the A’s management.
Citing anonymous sources, the New York Post reported Friday that Sisolak threatens to block the A’s from moving to Las Vegas and rejects the team’s grant applications for a new stadium.
In its article, the Post said Manfred had discussed the A’s potential relocation with Sisolak, which he said signaled the team had support from other MLB owners who would vote to approve the move.
The story also noted that Manfred signaled he would not approve the move unless Nevada provided public funding for a more than $1 billion, 30,000-seat domed stadium.
Manfred also threw water at the report on Friday. “That wouldn’t be accurate,” he said in an email to the Review-Journal. “I’ve only spoken to the governor once and that was a while ago.”
For his part, Sisolak said in a statement released by his office that he understands the economic opportunity offered by professional sports teams.
But the statement added: “The Governor was clear from the start that he would not be considering a room tax package for this potential move, and that has not been an issue in his conversations with the Commissioner or the direction of athletics.
A officials declined to comment Friday on how a lack of public money could affect a potential move to Las Vegas. But A’s president Dave Kaval has been adamant that the team could potentially build a baseball stadium in Las Vegas in a number of ways, with or without the public money involved.
“I think it’s really important to have a site under control…and then take the next step to meet with key officials and discuss the possibility of a public-private partnership,” Kaval told the Review-Journal earlier this year. “We will continue on this strategy, essentially a two-step process. We continue to make a lot of progress in this regard. While some of the work is happening behind the scenes, a lot of work is going on.
The Athletic moved to Oakland from Kansas City in 1968 and shared the 56-year-old RingCentral Coliseum with the Raiders, who left for Las Vegas in 2020. The A’s tried unsuccessfully to land their own stadium in the Bay Area for the past. 25 years.
A’s officials made several trips to Las Vegas to scout locations and meet with officials. They are considering five sites for a ballpark, and Kaval said last week that the preferred location could be announced next month.
Earlier this week, Sisolak struck an upbeat tone about the Athletics’ potential move to Las Vegas, telling KWWN-AM (11:00 a.m.) that he and Kaval had a detailed conversation on Sunday.
“We’ve had quite a conversation about a few sites that they’re still seriously considering,” Sisolak said. “We went over the pros and cons as well as the barriers and pros of the various sites they are considering. I spoke to the commissioner (Rob Manfred) a few weeks ago about Major League Baseball’s desire to move to Las Vegas. So there is a lot more movement than I thought a few months ago.
Lack of appetite
Since the A’s began exploring the Las Vegas market, the majority of local politicians have said they have no appetite for public money destined for another stage.
The only local jurisdiction that said it would consider a possible public-private partnership was Henderson. But Henderson is all but off the mark after Kaval said the team is focusing on the Resort Corridor for its final five potential stadium sites.
If an A’s ballpark lands on the Strip, at least one Clark County commissioner objects to providing any documents.
“I don’t speak for anyone but myself, but I certainly do,” Clark County Commissioner Michael Naft said. “I think we’ve seen our investment in Allegiant Stadium pay off. I think it’s amazing to see what it’s done for the community.
The Raiders received $750 million in public funding through a 0.88% tax on hotel rooms in Clark County. Essentially, visitors are paying for this part of the $2 billion stadium.
This stadium has allowed Las Vegas to hold events it couldn’t before, such as the four sold-out BTS shows taking place this weekend and next. Naft does not see a potential Stage A offering the same advantage.
“The Raiders took that risk. They were the first in and I don’t think the same deal is offered to a future sports team that wants to come here,” Naft said. “I certainly don’t fancy doing this kind of public investment, because I think we’ve already proven ourselves, and (it) shows why the private sector should invest.”
Naft said the A’s have hinted they might be interested in public funding for a stadium, despite the lack of appetite for it among local officials.
“They are definitely looking for public assistance,” Naft said. “But I don’t think, certainly not from the county or anyone else, that they were made that offer.”