Clark County bonds eyed by lawmakers to fill in $200M financing gap for potential A’s Las Vegas ballpark

Published: May. 19, 2023 at 11:53 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - Talks for a Las Vegas ballpark bill still face a $200 million divide between the Oakland A’s and some Nevada lawmakers, Friday evening, and there are talks from lawmakers of using $125 million in Clark County bonds to fill in the gap.

Stakeholders have recently discussed using $125 million of Clark County bonds, but Commissioner Tick Segerblom cautions that there has been no public discussion of benefits to taxpayers. The state could mandate the use of bonds, and Segerblom hopes a mandate will not happen, calling for a bill review and public discourse.

“We at the county commission are looking very closely at whatever package they produce. I don’t see why taxpayers should support something that doesn’t help us,” Segerblom said.

The Oakland A’s request $395 million in public financing in the form of a tax district.

According to a stakeholder in the executive branch privy to talks, some lawmakers remain firm in offering $195 million in tax breaks. Key legislative deadlines such as the finalization of a budget will take priority over “11th hour” discussions for a potential ballpark.

FOX5 spoke to Clark County Chairman Jim Gibson last week about the use of county bonds.

“Clark County has the highest bond rating in Southern Nevada. The resources are guarded with a real jealous approach. We are not going to waste anything. We are not going to throw anything away,” Gibson said.

“We continue to work diligently to protect the taxpayers of Clark County as well as the finances of Clark County government in our ongoing negotiations with A’s,” said Clark County Chief Communications and Strategy Officer Jennifer Cooper in a statement.

If a borrower cannot make payments, Clark County must pull from its debt service reserves. If debt service reserves run out, the county may be required to pull from the general fund or raise property taxes to make payments.

Although Governor Joe Lombardo’s office maintains he would veto any tax raises that require legislative approval, GO bonds would operate differently and trigger a property tax raise, according to Clark County employees knowledgeable in local bond repayments.

Clark County had to dip into its debt service reserves during the pandemic to pay for bonds for Allegiant Stadium. The bonds were funded by a room tax.

In late April, the Oakland A’s announced a binding agreement to purchase a plot of land off I-15, known as the former Wild Wild West site. The proposal requested $500 million in public financing.

On May 9, the team shifted its focus to the Tropicana Hotel site with a $395 million request for public financing.