February 24, 2024

Nevada teachers union sues to block A’s Las Vegas stadium deal

A teachers union in Nevada is now attacking the Oakland A’s and their stadium efforts in Las Vegas on a second front.

A teacher-backed political action committee on Monday sued the state and Gov. Joe Lombardo, challenging the legality of the bill that last year granted $380 million in public money to a new Las Vegas stadium for the A’s. The lawsuit, which also names state treasurer Zach Conine, is the second effort aimed at the A’s brought by the Nevada State Education Association, one of Nevada’s teachers’ unions.

The first, a ballot initiative, sought to bring the stadium’s funding bill, known as “SB1,” to a public vote. The teachers lost in court in November, but an appeal is pending.

Now, the teachers are going after the bill on technical grounds, alleging it violates the state’s constitution. The A’s, who are not a defendant in the lawsuit, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Gov. Lombardo’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The suit alleges that the bill actually required a two-thirds majority vote in both Nevada’s Assembly and Senate to pass, rather than a standard majority vote, because that’s how the state is supposed to treat legislation that creates public revenue.

The suit also claims SB1 doesn’t satisfy requirements to provide cost calculations and that the state is going to wrongly assume debts from Clark County, where Las Vegas is situated.

“This is around the A’s and (owner) John Fisher’s efforts to get the financing for the balance of the roughly $1.1 billion dollars that he needs to put together,” said Chris Daly, the NSEA’s deputy executive director for government relations. “We’re doing everything we can to make the road harder for them. Because our ultimate goal is to fund Nevada schools, and we think SB1 and the stadium deal goes in the wrong direction.”

Most of the NSEA’s work in opposition to the A’s had thus far run through a PAC called Schools over Stadiums. Monday’s lawsuit was filed by another group backed by the NSEA called Strong Public Schools. Officials from the teachers’ union had said in November that litigation like Monday’s was likely to follow.

On the other track, if the teachers’ court battle to bring SB1 to a referendum works out favorably, there would still be large hurdles. To bring SB1 to a public vote, the teachers would need to collect more than 100,000 signatures effectively by June, a process that would cost probably at least $1 million, Daly said. The group would need to raise significant funding for that to work, and in a short time frame.

“We’re going to need institutional players to step up in order to help us qualify this,” Daly said. “Some of the (A’s) fan groups, some of the leaders seem committed to soldiering on and trying to raise a million dollars. And I say, ‘Thank you, I don’t want to tell you you can’t do it, because you’ve done a lot of things that I have never seen before already.’

“With that said, I’ve always known that we need more institutional players, probably from the Bay Area, to weigh in on our side.”

The A’s hope to have the stadium ready to go on the Las Vegas Strip in time for the 2028 season.

(Photo by Larry Placido / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)