This bit of news comes from the Oakland A’s President Dave Kaval, or more pointedly, his reported actions. Right off the heels of his wayward tweet indicating he was having such a good time at the Las Vegas Golden Knights NHL Playoffs Game, that the team just may be better off there than in Oakland, my friend elects to drop a wild question on Clark County and Las Vegas public officials: can you give us a Raiders-level public subsidy?
Personally, I am not generally opposed to a government subsidizing a sports facility. For me, it depends on the design of the subsidy, the enabling legislation, and the layout of the project itself. In other words, if the project and tax flows are designed such that the subsidy produces an economic return on investment, then I’m all for it. That’s a far more intelligent approach than those who choose to pick a side based purely on political leanings left or right. Choosing one or the other without any knowledge of a specific sports facilities project at all is down-right stupid. But, as you have seen, we’ve been harmed by a lot of stupid of late.
This latest head-scratcher on the part of my friend Dave Kaval comes courtesy of the Las Vegas Review Journal. Buried in its story about the A’s talk of possibly $1 billion for a new stadium and one near the Las Vegas Strip, was this beauty of an entry:
How that would be financed was loosely mentioned during Tuesday’s talks, but the source indicated the A’s are interested in pursuing a public-private partnership, similar to what the Raiders received when they relocated to Las Vegas from Oakland.
The Oakland Raiders now Las Vegas Raiders received $750 million in public money toward the $2 billion cost for Allegiant Stadium. The money is being generated by a .88 percent tax on hotel rooms in Clark County.
The source said there is little desire from the county to offer much, if any, public funding to build a possible MLB stadium.
What a colossal blunder on the part of Oakland A’s President Dave Kaval. Just one week after it was announced that Clark County, Nevada had to draw down $18 million to avoid non-payment of the debt service on the $645 million, here comes the Oakland A’s with their hand out, asking for the public to give them a deal “like the Raiders received” of $750 million in public money (the $645 million bond proceeds, and the $100 million in pre-collected pay-as-you-go funds gathered between fiscal years 2017 and 2018).
Wow. Did the A’s read the Las Vegas press, or Oakland News Now, before embarking on their journey to Las Vegas to then beg for public money? Whatever, it signals a sea change for the Oakland A’s. The organization is not crowing about privately financing a Las Vegas Stadium; they have been in Oakland.
How To Look At The Oakland A’s Las Vegas Ballpark Public Subsidy Proposal
So, just how should we look at the Oakland A’s Las Vegas Ballpark Public Subsidy Proposal? I look at it as something that Major League Baseball wanted Dave Kaval to pursue, rather than Kaval doing it on his own. Let’s face it, this is more a matter of MLB stepping into Kaval’s work in Oakland, snapping its collective fingers, and saying “Ok, hurry it up. This is taking to long. We’re going to move this forward for you.” Only Major League Baseball has designed this such that Kaval’s wearing the egg on his face and not MLB itself.
That written, Kaval has to know that it’s a poison-pill for a Las Vegas Ballpark Deal. Asking for a public subsidy “like the Raiders got” is one thing if you have Sheldon Adelson around to help you twist arms to get it. But he’s not, and Kaval does not have access to anyone who can help him, outside Governor Sisolak, and was not involved in any of the meetings with A’s representatives. That’s got to tell you something right off the bat. (And while Kaval’s boss John Fisher is a billionaire, he does not have Nevada ties to get a deal like this done the way Adelson did it.).
And while you’re at it, no, Las Vegas Raiders Owner Mark Davis is not the one who is working to push things forward for Kaval, unless he’s made part owner of the Las Vegas version of the Oakland Athletics. Now, don’t go around saying “Zennie said Mark Davis wants to be part of the A’s Las Vegas Ownership”, because I am not saying that. But I am speculating on what would entice him to get involved and help Dave. Also, I’m not saying he’s not talking to Kaval, either.
There would have to be a steep price paid for Davis involvement because, according to Raiders President Marc Badain, the A’s and the Raiders do not have a great relationship. Asked about the A’s problems in Oakland by a local media type, Badain said that he would rather not comment given that their relationship was not the greatest. That was just last week when he made the comment. You think “The Marks” are going to turn on a dime and suddenly love the A’s? Badain’s probably begging Mark to leave them on their own as I write this.
Besides, the Las Vegas Raiders have their own problems: like threat of an entertainment tax slapped on their tickets. Yep. If passed, Nevada Bill 367 would put a tax on Raiders and Golden Knights tickets.
The current news is the bill failed committee, but the simple fact it appeared at all is news related to this blog post, and for two primary reasons.
- If it had passed the Nevada Legislature, it would have triggered the Raiders release from the Non-Relocation Agreement.
- The creation of such a tax signals a new era of Pandemic-caused public sector austerity in Nevada. And that is one more reason why Kaval’s ask of a “Raiders-style subsidy” has little chance of seeing the light of day.
A’s to Las Vegas is not a done-deal at this point, and it’s starting to look like a hard deal – unless the Governor of Nevada gets involved. Get your popcorn ready.
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