Who's not funding push for Nevada vote on A's stadium funds? Nevadans

Athletics owner John Fisher speaks after MLB owners approved the team's move to Las Vegas on Nov. 16, 2023.
Athletics owner John Fisher speaks at a news conference on Nov. 16, 2023, after MLB owners approved the team's move to Las Vegas. (LM Otero / Associated Press)

The pitch: Do you, the taxpayers of Nevada, want hundreds of millions of dollars of public money used to help the Oakland Athletics and their billionaire owner build a ballpark in Las Vegas?

Seven months after a Nevada teachers’ union first threw out that pitch, it is unclear whether voters will have a say — and whether Nevadans want to insist upon one.

The Nevada courts have tossed out an initial proposed referendum — the ruling is on appeal — and to this point the union has fallen far short of raising the money necessary to get a referendum on the ballot.

Read more: Viva Las Vegas: MLB owners unanimously approve A's move from Oakland

The union’s “Schools Over Stadiums” political action committee raised $63,490 last year, according to a filing with the Nevada Secretary of State on Friday. The committee spent $88,927 on legal expenses, according to the filing.

The group plans to file a lawsuit seeking to block some or all of the public funding as early as next week, according to Alexander Marks, spokesman for the Nevada State Education Assn. (NSEA).

The A’s did not respond to a message seeking comment on how the success of a lawsuit or referendum might impact their move to Las Vegas. In October, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said an “adverse development with respect to that referendum … would be a significant development.”

The cost of organizing a Nevada referendum — primarily to collect and submit signatures — can range from $700,000 to $1.5 million, Marks said.

“My goal would probably be the million mark,” Marks said, “but we’re obviously not close to that at this point.”

Nevada law does not require disclosure of donations of less than $1,000. All of the four donors disclosed by Schools Over Stadiums have addresses in Northern California.

Marks said his group has received smaller donations from “all across Nevada” and around the country.

His group is happy to accept donations from A’s fans who view a referendum as a last hope in keeping the team in Oakland, or at least in complicating the move for team owner John Fisher. The NSEA plans to fundraise in Oakland next month, at a festival organized by A’s fans.

“These are the people who want to keep the team the most right now,” Marks said. “That’s who is donating the most to our campaign.”

The campaign is a grass-roots one, in large part because the teachers’ union is not supported on this issue by other large unions in Nevada, including the ones representing the construction workers who would build the ballpark and concession workers who would serve fans there.

“The large donors who would typically get involved with this,” Marks said, “are on the other side.”

In November, MLB owners unanimously approved the A’s move to Las Vegas. The A’s will play out the final season of their Oakland Coliseum lease this year and hope to move into the new Las Vegas ballpark in 2028; they have not said where they plan to play in the interim.

The Nevada legislature has agreed to $380 million in public funding for the new ballpark. Fisher has not said publicly how he would pay for the estimated $1.1 billion necessary to finance the rest of the construction costs.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.