On Wednesday, the Nevada state senate approved a $380 million bill to fund the construction of a Major League Baseball stadium on the Las Vegas Strip. In doing so, they set in motion a chain of events that will hand Oakland A's owner John Fisher everything that he wants. Nevada is essentially giving a fortune to a billionaire who happens to be one of the worst people in all of sports. And he's done nothing to deserve the windfall he's about to receive.
Fisher is the epitome of the stingy sports owner. He's essentially a real-life version of Rachel Phelps from Major League, only his scheme is actually going to work. He has stripped the A's down to the bone for years, all while raking in massive profits. In 2023, he's barely fielding a major league-level roster while simultaneously complaining about a lack of fan support. Those fans showed up to the stadium in droves Tuesday night in a "reverse boycott" to chant "sell the team" for several hours. It won't matter.
Now Fisher is going to screw over another city's fans. He is set to rob Nevada taxpayers of $380 million to build a stadium so he can uproot a franchise that has been in Oakland since 1968. For years Fisher has battled with officials in the Bay Area over plans for a new stadium, but each project involved loads of public money the city didn't have. Fisher is worth $2.4 billion. If he can't afford to build his own stadium, MLB should force him to sell the franchise. Instead, he is forcing someone else to pay for a home for his business. And Nevada's politicians were dumb enough to take the bait.
Fisher is the classic example of a billionaire who hasn't actually worked for anything. His parents founded The Gap and he inherited his wealth from them. He bought the A's with Lewis Wolff in 2005 and gained full ownership in 2016. He's run the A's into the ground in a deliberate move to get out of Oakland. Basic stadium maintenance is far behind, he's raised ticket prices, all the while gutting the roster. His team's payroll was $50 million in 2022, and is $43.1 million this season. But he had plenty of money to hire an army of lobbyists for the Nevada legislature. Meanwhile, it's not like the A's are losing money. Despite Fisher chasing fans away, the team made $29 million in 2022.
During his tenure in Oakland, the biggest contract the team has handed out was a two-year, $15 million deal for Joakim Soria back in 2019. Meanwhile, the A's have traded away stars Matt Chapman, Matt Olson, Sean Murphy, Frankie Montas and Chris Bassitt. Fisher was the lone MLB owner who chose not to pay his minor leaguers during the 2020 COVID season, but finally caved after public pressure. He missed a rent payment on the stadium in 2020 despite making $33 million in 2019. Put simply: he's the worst.
Now Fisher has somehow convinced the state of Nevada to hand him a boatload of money for his vanity project. No matter that publicly-funded stadiums are always a bad deal for taxpayers, that this one will almost certainly cost far more than the current price tag, or that virtually all of the jobs created will be of the low-wage, service industry kind. Despite all of that, the politicians in Nevada bought Fisher's grift and are handing him the keys to the state's safe.
It's reprehensible that a man who has open contempt for his team's fans is being rewarded for his horrible behavior. And while the politicians in Nevada deserve your scorn, leave some room for MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and Fisher's fellow owners. They're poised to rubber stamp this move, essentially endorsing his years of horrendous ownership. They may even waive the relocation fee to help things along. At every turn, Fisher's awful behavior has been enabled.
So congrats, Nevada. This is the guy you're welcoming to your city. A stingy owner who only cares for profit margins and is willing to screw fans over if it lines his pockets. That's the guy you're handing hundreds of millions of your constituents' tax dollars to. That's who you're bending over backwards to accommodate. When you make a deal with the devil, you should be prepared for the consequences.
Fisher is the worst. His actions merit every bit of scorn that has come his way -- and probably a lot more. The A's move away from Oakland is an example of everything that's wrong with sports. We saw it with the Chargers leaving San Diego, the Rams bolting St. Louis and the Raiders decamping from Oakland. Owners are repeatedly allowed to screw their fans over in pursuit of a buck. Leagues not only enable these moves, they endorse them. It was wrong then and it's wrong now.
John Fisher hasn't earned any of this. Like his fortune, it's just being handed to him. He doesn't deserve it.