Teachers' union-backed group suing to stop tax money for A's stadium plan in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS — A teachers’ union political group has filed a second legal effort seeking to block Nevada from spending taxpayer funds to build a baseball stadium on the current site of the Tropicana resort on the Las Vegas Strip for the relocated Oakland Athletics.

Strong Public Schools Nevada, a political action committee backed by the Nevada State Education Association, filed a lawsuit Monday in state court in Carson City challenging the allocation of up to $380 million in public funding approved last June by the Democratic-led state Legislature and signed by the Republican governor.

“Every dollar we spend building stadiums is a dollar we aren’t using for public education,” the association said in a statement provided Tuesday by spokesperson Alexander Marks. Public money should not go to a billionaire for a stadium while Nevada ranks 48th in the nation with the largest class sizes and highest educator vacancy rates in the country.”

The $1.5 billion 30,000-seat stadium with a retractable roof is planned near the homes of the NFL’s Vegas Raiders, who relocated in 2020 from Oakland to Las Vegas, and the NHL’s Golden Knights, who won the Stanley Cup last season in their sixth year.

The fight over the use of public funds in Las Vegas comes amid debate in other cities and states over the costs and benefits of taxpayer support for sports venues. Nevada state lawmakers in 2016 granted $750 million in public assistance toward the Raiders’ nearly $2 billion Allegiant Stadium. T-Mobile Arena, home to the Golden Knights, opened with no public assistance.

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, who lost a bid to have the baseball stadium located within city boundaries, said in a sports podcast recorded Monday with Front Office Sports that she thought a move by the Athletics “does not make sense,” and the team would be better off staying in Oakland. The Tropicana hotel site is outside city limits in Clark County.

“I want to be clear that I am excited about the prospect of Major League Baseball in Las Vegas,” Goodman said Tuesday in a statement released by her City Hall office. “It very well may be that the Las Vegas A’s will become a reality that we will welcome to our city.”

The union also backs a referendum petition drive it is pursuing under the name Schools over Stadiums to fix what it called “misguided priorities” in the Athletics stadium funding plan.

That effort was rejected in November by a state court judge who heard arguments that the wording was too broad, confusing and misleading to be placed on the statewide ballot. An appeal by the union is pending before the state Supreme Court.

Also in November, MLB owners unanimously approved the A’s move to Las Vegas.

Last month, hotel owner Bally’s Corp. said the Tropicana will close on April 2, just short of its 67th anniversary, to begin preparations for demolition.

The new lawsuit names the state, Gov. Joe Lombardo and Treasurer Zach Conine as defendants, and alleges violations of several state constitutional provisions including one requiring tax questions to be passed by a two-thirds majority of state legislators.

Lombardo aide Elizabeth Ray and spokespeople for state Attorney General Aaron Ford did not respond to messages seeking comment about the court filing.

Plaintiffs in the case also include teachers’ union President Vicki Kreidel and former Clark County commissioner and Democratic candidate for governor Chris Giunchigliani. Giunchigliani once headed the teachers’ union.

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