LAS VEGAS (AP) — A Nevada teachers' group has sued to block the state from spending taxpayer money to build a baseball stadium 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 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 for the site now occupied by the Tropicana resort. The location is near the stadium of the NFL’s Vegas Raiders, who relocated in 2020 from Oakland to Las Vegas; and the home of the NHL’s Golden Knights, who won the Stanley Cup last season in their sixth year.
The fight over using public funds 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 Front Office Sports podcast recorded Monday that she thought a move by the Athletics “does not make sense.” The Tropicana hotel site is outside city limits, but within Clark County.
“I personally think they've got to figure out a way to stay in Oakland to make their dreams come true,” she said.
On Tuesday, Goodman issued a statement through her City Hall office saying she wanted to be clear that she was “excited about the prospect of Major League Baseball in Las Vegas.”
The teacher's union also backs a petition to put the funding question to voters via referendum. The group is pursuing that option under the name Schools over Stadiums to fix what it called “misguided priorities” in the stadium funding plan.
The push for a referendum 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.
MLB owners have 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 most recent 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, who once headed the teachers' union.