As Fans A Protest, Nevada Approaches Stadium Bill

On Tuesday, as Track and Field fans began mass gathering at the Oakland Coliseum in a long-planned reverse boycott of the team's ownership and plans to move the A's to Las Vegas, the Nevada State Senate voted in favor of a bill to provide the public with funding for Major League Baseball's stadium on the Las Vegas Strip.

The bill, which would allow funding of up to $380 million for a stadium, will be considered by the state Assembly on Wednesday and if passed there, will be submitted to Governor Joe Lombardo for signature. The bill, if signed, will be the biggest hurdle cleared so far for the Athletics in their bid to leave the run-down multi-purpose stadium in Oakland, California that they have called home since 1968.

With the incentives provided by the bill, which passed the Senate, 13-8, the team hopes to build a $1.5 billion stadium on the site of the Tropicana Las Vegas casino and hotel.

If the bill is approved and signed, the A's will then seek the approval of the other 29 MLB owners to move – a process Commissioner Rob Manfred said could be completed quickly when asked about it last month. In the past, Manfred has called finding new stadiums for the A's and Tampa Bay Rays a big priority for the league, as it cannot consider expanding beyond 30 teams until those clubs are finalized.

The A's, with a recognizable roster over the last few seasons, were expected to be terrible this season and spent more than two months breaking the 1962 Mets' modern-era record for losses in a single season. Their play has picked up recently, with the team going on a pretty surprising six-game winning streak going into Tuesday night's clash against the Rays, which they followed up with a won 2-1 over the best team in baseball.

In a rare sight, the Coliseum, which averages a league-low 8,555 fans a game, was packed Tuesday with a season-best 27,759 spectators, many of whom wore green T-shirts emblazoned with “Sell” on their chests as part of a planned protest. , who believed they had been unfairly blamed for the team's attendance problems, returned for one night to prove they were still there and would return to the game if the team's owner, John Fisher, sold the team and the A's could return to playing competitive baseball.

“I only watched one game this year. I saw this game and I knew I had to come because I knew it would be monumental and would send a message to the owners that this is what the fan base wants,” Scott Finney, a resident of Sacramento, told The Associated Press. . “They want ownership to sell the team so they can stay in Oakland.”

But should Nevada approve public funding for a new stadium, hopes of building a new park in Oakland, at Howard Terminal or elsewhere, will likely be dashed, even as the city of Oakland has worked to keep the doors open.

While Tuesday was deliberately chosen for the protest to illustrate that fans would come even on a regular night game against visiting teams not known for attracting fans, it ended to coincide with a special session of the Nevada legislature, which Lombardo asked to settle. The bill after the regular session was adjourned on June 5.

Questioning the team has become intense over the last two weeks as the state Senate and Assembly, which are both controlled by Democrats, try to work out the details of a deal brokered with help from the state's Republican governor. The plan calls for A to provide $1.1 billion for development while agreeing to certain terms of how the team will interact with the community and how revenue will be generated and distributed over the coming years.

Senate attach two amendments to the bill before its final vote, locking Tropicana as a location and including language from another bill Lombardo had previously vetoed on family wages and leave laws.

“I assure every Nevada person, even those of you who have concerns about this bill – I assure you that if you look at where it started and where it is now, there isn't a single Nevada person who isn't going to say that this bill is much better. ,” Senator Edgar Flores, a Democrat, told reporters Tuesday.

While the A representatives haven't provided details on how their funding sides will combine, they have pushed the consistent line that the bill will provide jobs and tax revenue to the city, while allowing other major events beyond the 81 regular seasons. the home games that the A's would play annually to be held at the venue.

There are still a number of issues related to the Nevada project that need to be addressed, even if the bill passes the Assembly, including whether the stadium poses a problem to the Federal Aviation Administration due to its proximity to Harry Reid International Airport. But all indications from the team and the state are that the stadium, with its retractable roof and easy access to some of Las Vegas' most high-profile casinos, could be ready for the 2027 season if the bill passes. The team's lease on the Oakland Coliseum runs for the duration of the 2024 season, which will leave two seasons in which the A's may need to find a temporary home.

Both the team and Manfred had suggested that Las Vegas Ballpark, home of the Class AAA Aviators—Athletics' top minor league affiliate—could be the solution. The venue, which currently hosts around 9,000 fans, will likely need some refurbishing to host MLB games, similar to the process the Toronto Blue Jays went through when they renovated their Class AAA ballpark in Buffalo for temporary use for major league games while traveling. to Canada is severely restricted due to the pandemic.

If the A's left Oakland, the city would lose every major pro sports franchise for several years, with the Raiders of the NFL having moved to Las Vegas and the Golden State Warriors of the NBA having moved to San Francisco.

The A fans, at least on Tuesday, didn't come out quietly.