In the ever-unfolding drama that pits the commitment to public education against the grandeur of America’s pastime, the Nevada State Education Association (NSEA) is once again stepping up to the plate, challenging the funding of a sprawling new baseball stadium in the heart of Las Vegas.
This Monday, with the steadfast resolve of a seasoned slugger, a political action committee under the NSEA’s wing, aptly named Strong Public Schools, launched a legal salvo in the venerable chambers of Carson City’s First Judicial Court. Their target: Senate Bill 1 (SB1), the controversial legislation that, in the heat of June, earmarked a hefty sum of $380 million taxpayer dollars to realize the Oakland Athletics’ vision for their Las Vegas home.
Amidst the legal jargon and courtroom posturing, the suit, a formidable adversary, levels grave accusations against the Silver State itself, Governor Joe Lombardo, and State Treasurer Zach Conine, claiming SB1 falls foul of the state’s constitution. The battle cry is clear: any law that coaxes public revenue into existence should have the solid backing of a two-thirds majority in both the Assembly and Senate—a threshold SB1, according to the plaintiffs, did not surmount.
The grievances run deep. The plaintiffs argue that SB1 comes up short on essential prerequisites, such as detailed cost calculations, and oversteps its bounds by burdening the state with debts originating from the coffers of Clark County.
Union spokesperson Chris Daly, embodying the spirit of David verses the corporate Goliath, told The Athletic—a watchdog of the sporting world and the first to bare this legal challenge to the public—the underlying motive is clear: “This is around the A’s and John Fisher’s efforts to get the financing for the balance of the roughly $1.1 billion he needs to muster. We’re putting up every hurdle we can find to redirect that ambition because our North Star, our Holy Grail, is securing the lifeline of Nevada’s schools, not indulging stadium fantasies.”
Curiously, the Athletics themselves sit outside the roster of defendants in this legal playoff.
This lawsuit is not the NSEA’s maiden voyage into the choppy seas of stadium opposition. A kin to the cause, another NSEA-affiliated PAC known as Schools Over Stadiums, took their grievances to the courts last November, aspiring to transform SB1 into a referendum. Although that play resulted in a swing and a miss, the NSEA harbors hopes on an ongoing appeal. Success in these judicial innings would rouse the need to collect upwards of 100,000 signatures by the cusp of summer—a crusade that, by conservative estimates, would tally over $1 million in costs, presenting a Herculean challenge in both time and treasure.
Daly, under the weight of this daunting quest, nevertheless expressed a guarded optimism to The Athletic, recognizing the need for “institutional players” to usher in the necessary support. Some faithful fans and persistent leaders of the A’s community have not shied away from this steep climb. “Some… seem committed to soldiering on and trying to raise a million dollars. And I say, ‘Thank you, I don’t want to tell you you can’t do it, because you’ve done a lot of things that I have never seen before already.’”
Meanwhile, the Athletics, unshaken by legal turbulence, pitch their vision of a 30,000-seat ballpark rising from the ashes of the Tropicana, a dated icon of the Las Vegas Strip, soon to be demolished by its owners, Bally’s Corp. With eyes set firmly on the 2028 baseball season, the club is swinging for the fences, hopeful their dream stadium will be a home run in the heart of the desert.