“Heavy physical work, the care of home and children, petty quarrels with neighbors, films, football, beer, and above all, gambling filled up the horizon of their minds. To keep them in control was not difficult….” ― George Orwell, 1984
It’s no secret that the federal government has little restraint about using taxpayer dollars for non-essential initiatives and projects. One venture, in particular, continuously shouldered by taxpayers is the building, maintaining, and renovating of sports stadiums. These stadiums are often built with the help of federal subsidies as well as funding through state and local taxes. This issue is not new, as study of subsidized stadiums by the Department of Economics at the College of the Holy Cross noted that “construction costs alone for major league professional sports facilities have totaled in excess of $30 billion in nominal terms over the past two decades with over half of the cost being paid by the public.”
Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with watching sports. However, it has become far more than just a game in this country. It is used to promote militarism, divide, and serve as bread and circus while the empire spreads across the globe. As the study mentions above, all of this comes with a hefty price tag too. Americans are quite literally financing their own distraction.
As Reason magazine reported this week, if approved by the New York legislature, the New York Bills’ taxpayer-funded stadium would be the biggest public handout in NFL history.
State and local taxpayers will contribute about $850 million toward the estimated $1.4 billion stadium project. Most of the public funds are coming from the state but Erie County, where the Bills’ new stadium will be built down the street from their current home, will contribute $250 million of the total. That’s a huge contribution from a local government that in 2021 spent a little more than $1.5 billion on its entire budget. The Bills owners, which include multi-billionaire Terry Pegula, are chipping in just $300 million while the NFL will cover the remaining $200 million with a loan to the team, according to the Times.
“It’s a great day for western New York and I’m really proud to negotiate such a good deal for the state and our many, many fans,” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said, according to the Associated Press.
While the sticker price for taxpayers is just $850 million on the surface, Neil deMause at Field of Schemes reminds us that the county — funded by taxpayers — will spend $75 million out of this year’s budget, and bond out the other $175 million and pay it back later. What’s more, the taxpayers are on the hook for another $6 million a year, for 30 years for a “Capital Improvement Fund” which will be used to upgrade the stadium for the next 30 years, plus an unknown additional amount of money from the county; and $6.67 million a year in state money for 15 years toward a “maintenance and repair fund.”
As deMause points out, “without counting that undetermined county expense on future upgrades, that’s worth about another $160 million in present value, bringing the total public subsidy to $1.01 billion — pretty much exactly what Hochul and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz swore last week it was not.”
Sadly, despite the long history of robbing Americans to build sportsball stadiums, the trend continues. According to a report presented by The Brookings Institution providing extensive insight into the staggering costs of federally subsidizing sports teams. Football and baseball received the most in subsidies, followed by basketball and hockey. Since 2000, the MLB received $1.41 billion; the NFL received $1.1 billion; the NBA received $444 million; and the NHL received $236 million. The report states that “the federal government has subsidized newly constructed or majorly renovated professional sports stadiums to the tune of $3.2 billion federal taxpayer dollars since 2000” resulting in $3.7 billion in lost revenue.
Taxpayers are often lured into approving public dollars to be spent on stadiums based on the idea that they will provide an economic boost to their local area. “The first, friendlier approach to secure a new stadium is the myth that a new stadium will leadoff to an economic boom. For cities that already have stadiums, the hardball approach of threatening to move to a new city works wonders,” notes Eric Peterson of the Washington Examiner and Americans for Prosperity.
Proponents claim that job growth will soar, and that tourists will enrich the area by spending money on hotels, restaurants, and other local attractions. As enticing as it sounds, the projections rarely come to fruition, as The Tax Foundation’s Jared Walczak points out:
“Nearly 80 percent of all professional sports facilities in the U.S. were replaced or underwent major renovation between 1987 and 2005, with 71 percent of the funding coming from government coffers. But for governments, the numbers never added up: in 1997, all amusement and recreational services combined—a category in which professional sports is just one of many components—accounted for a mere 0.06 percent of the more than 55 million jobs located in counties populated by more than 300,000 persons. These jobs accounted for ‘one-tenth of 1 percent of the $1.5 trillion in income reported for these 161 counties.’”
Despite these historical trends, Hochul and her ilk are once again making these empty promises about “jobs” and “economic growth.”
“New Yorkers can rest assured that their investment will be recouped by the economic activity the team generates,” Hochul said Monday.
Sadly, this is business as usual for government and corrupt ties to billionaires who have an increasing amount of influence over them.
I don’t recall reaching any fucking deal to give the 8th richest NFL owners $850 million of taxpayer $$ https://t.co/ZV1h6BfPVk
— Ron T. Kim (@rontkim) March 28, 2022
Article posted with permission from Matt Agorist.
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