The A’s Las Vegas stadium bill is dead, unless it isn’t

The A’s stadium bill didn’t make it through the normal legislative session, so now it’s on to a special session, which doesn’t guarantee anything, either.

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The legislative session that included the Memorial Day weekend Las Vegas stadium bill for the A’s has come and gone, and without the bill being passed. A’s supporters in Vegas were always up against the clock here, so the session ending, bringing on the need for a special session this summer, was a likely possibility from the start. The thing is, a special session can’t just be called by anyone, which is how we ended up in situations like the one the A’s and their supporters are in now.

The Republican governor of Nevada, Joe Lombardo, called for a special session to tackle the stadium bill, as it’s all tied up in other budget concerns that also might have died on Monday night when the regularly scheduled legislative session ended. The House and Assembly are both majority Democrat at the moment, so the A’s stadium bill is caught in some party-based crossfire in addition to the inherently polarizing nature of “do we want to be able to repair roads or have a pro baseball team?” Said crossfire meant an immediate rejection of the idea of a special session from the person actually capable of authorizing it, Speaker Steve Yeager, by way of his press secretary.

So, the A’s stadium bill is dead, unless this is all just political posturing, as Neil deMause suggested it could be at Field of Schemes on Tuesday morning. And it might just be posturing, too, as the Nevada Independent’s Tabitha Mueller tweeted out on Tuesday night that “a proclamation for a special session will be arriving shortly,” and that one of the two planned items on the agenda was the A’s stadium bill. And then, as reported, there was a special session on Tuesday night, with another planned for Wednesday, which we know about because Yeager’s own Twitter account sent out a message on the subject before the sun came up on the east coast on Wednesday.

Now, a special session being called, and the A’s stadium bill being on it, still doesn’t mean that it’s going to pass. The deal is, as has been discussed in this space and elsewhere, shit. And with the two major parties at odds over Nevada’s budget already, someone pointing out that this bill will actually end up costing over half-a-billion in public funds in addition to carving out exceptions for the A’s and giving them the chance to hold future taxpayer dollars hostage or break their lease without penalty and head elsewhere, again, might be enough to keep this bill from passing. This bill, though, is the key phrasing there: the A’s have been haggling with the city of Oakland for longer than any of their current players have even been in the organization — I know, I know, this is the A’s we’re talking about, maybe that’s not the best way to measure time — and have been at it with Vegas and Nevada for a much shorter time. There could be other bills, other attempts, other, more convincing obfuscations of how much this will actually cost in public funds.

Or, given the A’s lease with the city of Oakland is up after 2024, and if there is no deal for a new ballpark by the end of this year then the Athletics will lose access to their special revenue-sharing dollars eligibility — revenue-sharing that is being pocketed, sure, but is likely also making up for the drop in local gate revenue that the A’s inflicted on themselves — this might be it for Vegas, with the better plan for the team being to head back to Oakland and apologize. And by apologize, I mean get John Fisher to sell the team on the condition that he gets to own an eventual expansion team — one that will probably have to be in Vegas, given the A’s would be backstabbing the city that helped them backstab the A’s — and also maybe set him up in a public square in Oakland in a dunk tank. The dunk tank might need to have hungry sharks in it.

The deal with Oakland isn’t dead, if the A’s come crawling back after deleting Vegas’ contact info from their phone and maybe if Fisher gets lost, too, but the deal with Vegas isn’t dead yet, either, so the A’s are unlikely at this point to make such a drastic decision in these negotiations — especially since it was likely their hope from the beginning to have both cities fighting over them. So… where does that leave us with all of this, then? We still don’t know exactly what’s going to happen, because the A’s pissed off an entire city as part of some Brilliant Negotiating Tactic from the master, Dave Kaval, and now they’re kind of stuck waiting to see what’s even going to happen just like the rest of us.

They can make all the binding-but-not-binding deals they want for land, they can hire construction companies to grab a headline, they can try to pass bills through on holiday weekends, but none of that means there is going to be a stadium deal. It’s all just noise, which is something you should be familiar with when it comes to the A’s and stadium talks.

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