Nevada Unions Go to War Over Proposed $1.5B Las Vegas Baseball Stadium

Posted on: September 29, 2023, 03:22h. 

Last updated on: October 2, 2023, 03:57h.

The effort to bring a $1.5 billion Oakland A’s baseball stadium to the Las Vegas Strip on the site of The Tropicana Casino has sparked a proxy war between trade unions.

Las Vegas baseball stadium, Oakland A’s, NSEA, AFL-CIO, Laborers Local 872
A digital rendering of the proposed stadium, which developers want to build on the site of the Tropicana once it’s pulled down. The Nevada State Education Association believes public money would be better spent on education. (Image: Oakland Athletics)

A lawsuit filed in Carson City, Nev., on Thursday by two individuals with strong ties to construction unions seeks to derail a ballot initiative that would put the issue of public funding for the stadium to a vote in 2024.

That initiative is being spearheaded by a campaign group called Schools Over Stadiums. It is also backed by the Nevada State Education Association (NSEA).

The statewide teachers’ union is aghast that taxpayers are being asked to put up at least $380 million for the stadium, which starkly contrasts Nevada’s poor education spending record.

Teachers Up in Arms

If voters pass the ballot measure, it will nullify Nevada’s agreement with the A’s, which was ratified when Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo signed a law granting the team public funding in June.

The lawsuit claims Schools Over Stadiums’ petition is unlawful and “deficient because it is confusing, deceptive and misleading, omits essential information regarding the Petition’s effects, and flatly misstates important factual matters.”

It also claims the petition doesn’t include the full text of the law it’s trying to change, which the state constitution requires. Voters won’t know what they’re voting for, it asserts.

‘Terrible Tone’

The plaintiffs are Danny Thompson, former leader of the Nevada AFL-CIO, and Thomas Morley, the former political director of Laborers Local 872. Morley is officially now retired but does consultancy work for Local 872.

They want the court to declare the petition invalid, block its placement on the ballot, and call a halt to the signature-gathering campaign.

Suing educators trying to put schools first sets a terrible tone for an organization claiming to now care about our community,” said Alexander Marks, a spokesperson for the NSEA and Schools over Stadiums.

“Educators overcome challenges every day. Schools over Stadiums is confident our referendum will move forward, and we will be gathering signatures to fix Nevada’s misguided priorities in the coming weeks,” he added.

‘F’ is for Funding

The A’s proposed move to Las Vegas would be MLB’s first club relocation since 2005 when the Montreal Expos became the Washington Nationals. But the A’s will have to wait as their ballpark isn’t expected to be completed until 2028.

Nevada consistently ranks near the bottom in national education rankings. It’s the only state to receive an “F” grade for education funding from the Education Law Center. Statewide, there is estimated to be a shortage of 28K teachers.