In a bold move that blended sports and economics, the Nevada Senate passed SB1 in June, initiating a lucrative wave of public financing. This legislation channelized a substantial $380 million to erect a new $1.5 billion ballpark for the Oakland A’s directly on the neon-soaked Las Vegas Strip.
The story unfolds with a hint of controversy as the A’s seemingly reciprocated the financial favor, not into the public coffers but into the campaign war chests of the proponents of the bill. The transparency of political donations was recently thrust into the limelight with disclosures mandated by the state for politicians who will be contesting elections in 2024. These revelations, now in the public domain courtesy of the Nevada Secretary of State’s website, indicated a clear pattern: an overwhelming majority of the legislators who endorsed SB1 were beneficiaries of the A’s’ largesse.
Scrutiny of the records disclosed that out of the 38 affirmative votes, financial gestures were extended to 30 legislators with sums of at least $1,000. The political luminaries topping this list were Assembly Speaker Steve Yeager and Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, each pocketing a full $10,000 from the team’s coffers. Their fellow legislators, including Assembly Minority Leader Phillip P.K. O’Neill and Majority Leader Sandra Jauregui, along with Budget Committee Chair Sen. Marilyn Dondero Loop, were also recipients of notable contributions.
The calculated generosity didn’t stop there. Even Clark County Commissioners William McCurdy II and Michael Naft found themselves $20,000 richer, thanks to the A’s. This sizable financial influx of approximately $67,000 to the supporters of public funding for the A’s stadium, coupled with an additional $20,000 to county commissioners, painted a clear portrait of gratitude and an implicit expectation of future support for the team’s ambitions.
Though political patronage by the A’s was mainly directed towards those who backed SB1 with their votes, the baseball team did scatter a modest sum among dissenters, distributing between $1,000 to $2,000 to nine of the 23 legislators who voted against the bill. Nonetheless, the team withheld financial favors from the more vocal opponents of the legislation.
As the state awaits additional disclosures from politicians who have yet to meet the filing deadline, the intersection of sports team financing and political contributions remains a subject of scrutiny and debate within Nevada’s legislative landscape.