LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A lawsuit aims to torpedo the effort to put public funding of a $1.5 billion baseball stadium on the Las Vegas Strip to a vote of the people.
Two lobbyists for the Athletics, the team that’s trying to move from Oakland to Las Vegas, are named as plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Schools Over Stadiums, a group that formed after a special session of the Nevada Legislature passed a plan to provide $380 million for stadium construction on the site of the Tropicana Las Vegas Casino Resort.
The lawsuit was filed by the Las Vegas law firm Bravo Schrager. Powerful Nevada union locals are behind the lawsuit, including the AFL-CIO and Laborers Local 872. Attorney Bradley Schrager is known to represent Democratic candidates and organizations, but the party is not involved in this dispute.
When stadium funding passed the Democrat-controlled Legislature and was signed by Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo, it was clear that jobs were a major reason for support from both parties.
Major League Baseball is expected to take up the matter of the A’s relocating to Las Vegas in November meetings. The move hasn’t been approved yet.
A referendum petition was filed by Schools Over Stadiums PAC on Sept. 6. If the petition succeeds, the question will be placed on the November 2024 ballot.
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday, challenges the legality of the petition. The lawsuit claims the petition fails to adequately explain to voters the effect it would have. Nevada law states the petition has to accomplish that in 200 words, and the lawsuit picks apart the explanation, calling it “deficient because it is confusing, deceptive and misleading, omits essential information regarding the Petition’s effects, and flatly misstates important factual matters.”
Voters won’t understand what they’re voting for, lawyers argue.
In addition, the lawsuit claims the petition fails to include the full text of the law it’s trying to change. That’s required in the Nevada Constitution.
The lawsuit seeks that the court declare the petition invalid, along with an order to the Nevada Secretary of State prohibiting its placement on the 2024 ballot or taking any further action on it. The lawsuit also asks the court to stop the group from gathering signatures. It asks the court to make the defendants pay court costs.
The petition would remove language that would give bond money to the stadium — but it doesn’t specify where any money raised by the legislation would ultimately go.
The lawsuit names the defendants as Nevada Democratic Secretary of State Francisco Aguilar, the Schools Over Stadiums PAC and its president, Dawn Etcheverry, who is a music teacher. Christopher Daly, vice president of the group, and Andrea DeMichieli, its treasurer, are also named as defendants.
Danny Thompson and Thomas Morley are named as plaintiffs.
A statement by Schools Over Stadiums posted Thursday describes Thompson and Morley as “well-connected lobbyists with close ties to a member of the Las Vegas Stadium Authority that just approved a controversial $1.8M contract with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) for staffing needs related to the proposed stadium.”
Alexander Marks, spokesman for Schools Over Stadiums, added, “Suing educators trying to put schools first sets a terrible tone for an organization claiming to now care about our community.” He said the group is confident the referendum will move forward.