With Major League Baseball owners poised to approve the relocation of the Oakland Athletics, a Nevada teachers’ union said Tuesday it plans to file a lawsuit that could halt some or all of the $380 million in public funding awarded to the A’s for construction of a new ballpark in Las Vegas.
The lawsuit, if successful, would not stop the A’s from moving to Las Vegas. It would force A’s owner John Fisher to decide whether he wants to make up any lost public funding, reopen negotiations with Oakland, or consider moving the team elsewhere, perhaps Portland or Salt Lake City.
The cost of that new ballpark, targeted for a grand opening in 2028, is estimated at $1.5 billion. The A’s are responsible for funding the balance of the construction cost.
Owners are expected to vote in favor of the relocation on Thursday. The move would be only the second in MLB in the past 50 years, and the first since the Montreal Expos moved to Washington, D.C. in 2005.
In a statement, Nevada State Education Assn. President Dawn Etcheverry said her organization believes the law that authorized the public funding “violates at least 5 sections of the state constitution, which should lead to the bill’s partial or total invalidation.”
She said the NSEA has “asked legal counsel to draft litigation” and plans will be to file a lawsuit aimed at overturning that law “in the coming weeks.”
The NSEA also is pursuing a referendum that would ask voters to approve some of the public funding. A judge last week threw out the referendum petition, calling it “legally deficient.” The NSEA filed a notice of appeal on Monday.
The A’s referred comment to Bradley Thompson, the former chief of the Nevada AFL-CIO, who is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit that resulted in the judge tossing the referendum petition. Thompson said the Nevada legislature acted only after receiving assurances from its legislative counsel and said he expected the current and coming legal challenges would not succeed.
“I think we’re pretty confident in all of it,” Thompson said. “We’re pretty confident the court’s ruling will be upheld. If they’re going to challenge anything else, we will be there to defend it.”