Presented by LVCVA
Las Vegas sports franchises and organizations are executing a different game plan while their respective seasons have been paused due to the coronavirus pandemic.
From sizable donations and assisting other industries affected by stay-at-home orders, the Las Vegas sports community is supporting fans and neighbors in a variety of ways. The Las Vegas Raiders and owner Mark Davis pledged $1 million to the Nevada COVID-19 Task Force to fight coronavirus in the state, as well as donating $25,000 to The Actors Fund as part of a livestreamed telethon staged by local nonprofit, Mondays Dark.
“Mr. Davis made a very generous donation, and the fact that he was so willing to support an industry outside of his own – and one that is so vital to the Las Vegas ecosystem – speaks volumes about his overall commitment to this community,” said Mark Shunock, founder and host of Mondays Dark and a veteran Las Vegas performer. “There are so many entertainers that call Las Vegas home, and a huge percentage of them have been out of work and are now struggling without steady paychecks. This donation will help provide a relief bridge so these entertainers can stay in Las Vegas and be part of the city’s recovery when it’s safe to bring entertainment back.”
Raiders players and staff also raised funds for local programs Three Square Food Bank and Delivering With Dignity. Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS) and the Vegas Golden Knights delivered food to frontline medical employees. Boyd Gaming donated tens of thousands of pounds of food to Three Square and Nellis Air Force Base.
Additionally, through the VGK Foundation, the Golden Knights donated $500,000 to the Nevada COVID-19 Task Force, while owner Bill Foley committed an additional $500,000 through his family foundation. Also, the team has pledged $500,000 to support game-day and arena workers for possible games missed.
Some organizations, which are usually on the receiving end, are partnering with those who have supported them in the past. The Shriners Hospitals for Children Open donated to MGM Resorts International’s Employee Emergency Grant Fund through a sponsorship with the Chipping All-In virtual poker tournament in April.
“Our donation went to the Employee Emergency Grant Fund, which helps protect MGM employees in times of crisis,” said Patrick Lindsey, executive director of Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. “As a long-term partner of ours, we loved being able to support MGM’s employee fund during this time.”
Some took the opportunity to pair up with stars outside of the sports world. During the month of April, UFC president Dana White and Academy Award-winning actress Halle Berry joined the Fanatics ALL IN Challenge. UFC raised more than $200,000 during the three-week campaign, with all funds donated directly to the COVID-19 hunger relief efforts of Meals on Wheels, World Central Kitchen, No Kid Hungry and America’s Food Fund.
Supporting Education and Hospitals
In lieu of a traditional celebration, Faith Lutheran High School’s Class of 2020 received their diplomas in their cars while making a victory lap around the 1.5-mile LVMS superspeedway.
“The administration approached us in mid-April with a mission to find a spacious, outdoor facility that could accommodate its commencement ceremony. It really didn’t take long to assess the logistics, knowing they would have to maintain proper social-distancing protocols put in place by our governor and the CDC,” said LVMS president Chris Powell. “The graduates and their parents were facing a reality of not being able to have their degrees conferred in a public setting along with their classmates, and now they’ll be able to do that – and in a unique way that they’ll never forget.”
Raiders tackle Trent Brown partnered with the Clark County School District to donate $20,000 for Chromebooks for remote schooling and UNLV Athletics student-athletes, coaches and staff read stories to elementary-age children at local schools.
The Las Vegas Bowl Huddle donated hand sanitizer and face masks, UFC’s equipment team donated more than 500 hand-made head and face covers to , Boyd Gaming donated more than 55,000 masks and gloves, and LVMS donated tents, gurneys and masks to several local hospitals.
Some just wanted to deliver a reminder of the good times sports provide. The MiLB’s Las Vegas Aviators recently visited 14 area hospitals to deliver gift bags that included peanuts, Cracker Jack, bubblegum and aviator sunglasses.
“Our organization decided to take the donation in a different direction and provide a bag of goodies that people could take home,” said Charles Johnson, general manager and vice president of sales and marketing for the Aviators. “It was meant to send healthcare professionals home with a smile, and maybe they could imagine themselves at a game and enjoy a little escape from what has almost certainly been a stressful work environment.”