Nevada Unions Engage in Battle Over Las Vegas Ballpark’s $1.5B Investment

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

Last updated on: September 29, 2023, 03:23h.

The race to bring a $1.5 billion baseball stadium for the Oakland A’s to the Las Vegas Strip, specifically on the grounds of the Tropicana Casino, has ignited a bitter dispute 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. But the NSEA believes public money would be better spent on education. (Image: Oakland Athletics)

A lawsuit was filed in Carson City, Nevada on Thursday by two individuals closely associated with construction unions, aiming to undermine a ballot initiative that would allow public funding for the stadium to be voted on in 2024.

The initiative is being led by the campaign group Schools Over Stadiums, which has the backing of the Nevada State Education Association (NSEA).

Teachers Express Outrage

The statewide teachers’ union is appalled at the request for taxpayers to contribute at least $380 million towards the stadium, especially when Nevada’s investment in education has been woefully inadequate.

If the ballot measure is approved by voters, it will invalidate Nevada’s agreement with the A’s, which was authorized when Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo signed a law granting the team public funding in June.

However, the lawsuit argues that Schools Over Stadiums’ petition is illegal and “deficient because it is confusing, deceptive, and misleading, and omits crucial information about the Petition’s effects, while also distorting important factual matters.”

The lawsuit also claims that the petition fails to include the full text of the law it is attempting to change, which is required by the state constitution. According to the lawsuit, voters will not have a clear understanding of what they are voting for.

Criticism from Plaintiffs

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Danny Thompson, former leader of the Nevada AFL-CIO, and Thomas Morley, the head of Laborers Local 872.

They are requesting that the court declare the petition invalid, prevent it from being placed on the ballot, and halt the signature-gathering campaign.

“Suing educators who prioritize schools sets a negative tone for an organization that claims to care about our community,” said Alexander Marks, spokesperson for the NSEA and Schools over Stadiums.

“Educators face challenges every day. Schools over Stadiums is confident that our referendum will proceed, and in the coming weeks, we will gather signatures to address Nevada’s misguided priorities,” he added.

Insufficient Funding

The proposed relocation of the A’s to Las Vegas would mark the first MLB club move since 2005, when the Montreal Expos became the Washington Nationals. However, the A’s will have to wait as the ballpark is not expected to be completed until 2028.

Nevada consistently ranks near the bottom in national education rankings and is the only state to receive an “F” grade for education funding from the Education Law Center. There is estimated to be a shortage of 28,000 teachers statewide.

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