A’s proposed ballpark deal SB509 isn’t garnering early support in Nevada

So far throughout their public flirtations with Las Vegas, the A’s have been able to try and manage the image of the project, through their controlled press releases and dishonest stadium renderings.

Late Friday night, the proposed ballpark plan was formally presented as Senate Bill 509, in a 44-page document outlining the deal. On Saturday morning, SB509 was discussed by the Nevada Senate Committee on Finance, where it was unleashed into the wild and we got to see the first reaction from the policy makers.

It didn’t go so hot for the A’s.

The Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada shared a clip of an interesting exchange during Saturday’s session between Sen. Dina Neal and Clark County Government Affairs Manager Joanna Jacob.

According to reports, Clark County has tentatively agreed to contribute $120 million to fund the proposed ballpark through general obligation bonds. But if the A’s can’t/won’t repay the money, Clark County will be on the hook and may have to dip into its general fund or raise taxes on its citizens.

Jacob admitted that committing nine figures to build a stadium could be viewed as “discretionary when we are operating in a deficit that has been a challenge for us in previous sessions.”

This prompted a hell of a question from Sen. Neal, who represents Clark County in the state senate.

“So, if you’re operating in a structural deficit – and this is gonna sound like a ding, because it is – then why are you guys willing to bond or give any of your money up for a stadium?” Neal asked. “You knew that was coming, because that’s just dumb.”

“How can I address that?” Jacob said. “I think that not currently taking a position on that bill, we are providing information on that bill that is going to be heard later this week. We have tried to work on this. Right now, we are carrying forward the budget deficit with some of what we can fund out of general fund. But, yes, we are concerned about long-term liability on our general fund. That’s how I will answer that question today.”

Just reading a transcript of this quote, you might think it’s nothing.

Jacob’s body language tells a whole different story. The sigh. The look up to the sky. The squirming in the seat. The nervous shuffling of the pen in her hands. Even she has trouble trying to justify Clark County’s proposed commitment at this point.

Her admittal that Clark County is worried about the long-term liability of the general fund is also a red flag, and shows that they don’t have complete confidence the A’s will be able to deliver on the repayment of bonds.

As of Saturday afternoon at about 2 p.m. PT, there were 443 public opinions logged on Nevada’s state legislature website for SB509, with 89 percent against the bill and 10 percent for it.

It’s a small sample size and detractors are motivated to make their voices heard, but SB509 doesn’t appear to be gathering much steam as the legislature heads towards its final day of 2023 session on June 5.