Nevada Supreme Court rejects petition initiative challenging $380M in tax funding for A’s stadium

Rendering of Las Vegas A's stadium

A rendering of the Athletics' proposed baseball stadium on the Las Vegas Strip. (Photo courtesy/Athletics)

By Casey Harrison

May 13, 2024

In a 5-2 ruling, the Nevada Supreme Court affirmed a lower court’s ruling the petition initiative circulated by Schools Over Stadiums was too vague and did not contain the full language of the legislation it sought to ask voters to repeal.

The Nevada Supreme on Monday affirmed a lower court’s ruling that tossed out a petition initiative that sought to ask voters in November to repeal the $380 million public funding package to aid in the construction of a Major League Baseball stadium off the Las Vegas Strip.

In a 5-2 ruling, the high court agreed with a ruling from Carson City District Court Judge James Russell that a petition initiative by the political action committee Schools Over Stadium lacked the full text of Senate Bill 1 — legislation signed by Gov. Joe Lombardo last June that appropriated $380 million in taxpayer dollars toward a proposed $1.5 billion, 33,000-seat indoor stadium to house the relocating Oakland Athletics.

The Nevada Constitution requires petition referenda to include the full text of the legislation in question, which Schools Over Stadiums simply did not do, the justices wrote in their majority opinion.

Despite the setback, the group that operates Schools Over Stadiums, the Nevada State Education Association teachers union, vowed to amend and circulate a new petition to put before voters for the 2026 general election, as well as continue its ongoing litigation challenging the constitutionality of SB 1.

“We believe Senate Bill 1 is unconstitutional, and we have identified five violations of the Nevada Constitution that should lead to the bill’s invalidation,” the group wrote in a statement published shortly after the court’s ruling on Monday. “Schools Over Stadiums remains committed to stopping Nevada tax dollars from paying for a stadium for a California billionaire, and we are disappointed Nevada voters will not have their say in 2024.”

They continued: “With this guidance, Schools Over Stadiums plans to refuel our petition next year and win in 2026. Nevada voters deserve the opportunity to decide where their money goes.”

The court also took issue with the petition’s 200-word description of the bill and argued it was too vague and failed to “straightforwardly and succinctly” inform signatories about what the referendum was proposing.

“This description explains the general effect of a referendum, but does not describe the practical effects of this specific referendum. The description is also misleading,” the justices wrote in their majority opinion. “We therefore conclude that the district court properly found the description of effect is inadequate.”

The case was first brought in November by two individuals affiliated with labor unions who support the project. The A’s were not listed in the lawsuit and declined comment for this story.

But attorney Bradley Schrager, whose firm represented the respondents, told The Nevadan he applauded the court’s ruling.

“We are gratified the court agreed with our arguments about the referendum’s legal flaws,” Schrager wrote in an emailed message. “All Nevadans have a right to participate in direct democracy, but they need to observe the laws that require properly informing the voters of a proposal. This measure obviously failed to do that.”

MLB’s 30 team owners voted unanimously in November to approve the relocation of the A’s to Las Vegas from Oakland, California, after talks fell through between team and local officials to build a new waterfront ballpark off the Port of Oakland.

A’s executives have long said the team’s current stadium, the Oakland Coliseum, has fallen into disrepair and is unfit for MLB standards.

The team’s lease at the Coliseum expires after this season, and the team intends to play its home games at a minor league stadium in Sacramento, California, for the 2025-2027 seasons while the stadium in Las Vegas is under construction.

Officials are hoping to build the stadium on a nine-acre lot of a greater 36-acre parcel where the now-closed Tropicana Hotel currently sits. Team executives have said the stadium project is on track to break ground by next April and be ready in time for the start of the 2028 season.

Plans to demolish the Tropicana (which was operated by the Bally’s Corp. though the site’s land is owned by a separate company, Gaming & Leisure Properties, Inc.) are tentatively set for October. Bally’s officials have stated interest in developing the rest of the lot into a new gaming resort, but have yet to offer specifics.

Nevada Supreme Court opinio… by casey

Follow Casey Harrison on X here.

  • Casey Harrison

    Casey Harrison is political correspondent for The Nevadan. Previously, he covered politics and the Oakland Athletics' relocation to Southern Nevada for the Las Vegas Sun, and before that, was a digital producer at The Detroit News. Casey graduated from Michigan State University in 2019.

CATEGORIES: EDUCATION

Politics

Local News

Related Stories
Share This