No More Free Rides: Senators Push Bill To Prevent Public Funding Of Stadiums

  • Rick Chandler

raidersstadium

Are you enjoying that sparkling new professional sports arena in your city? And are you enjoying paying for it? I didn’t think so. Now two U.S. senators have introduced a bill that would save taxpayers from themselves — prohibiting teams from building new stadiums through public tax revenue.

ESPN:

Cory Booker, D-N.J., and James Lankford, R-Okla., are sponsoring a bill that would prohibit teams from using municipal bonds, whose interest is exempt from federal taxes, to help finance stadium construction.

“Professional sports teams generate billions of dollars in revenue,” Booker said in a statement. “There’s no reason why we should give these multimillion-dollar businesses a federal tax break to build new stadiums. It’s not fair to finance these expensive projects on the backs of taxpayers, especially when wealthy teams end up reaping most of the benefits.”

Exhibit A: the new NFL stadium in Las Vegas for the Raiders. It’s estimated to cost $1.9 billion, of which $750 million will be from public funding. Or more precisely, from municipal bonds issued by Clark County, backed by the proceeds of a special hotel room tax in the Las Vegas area, which has already begun being collected his past March.

So why exactly are taxpayers helping to fund a stadium for millionaire Mark Davis? I you moved to Vegas it wasn’t for the pro football — there is none.

Via Darren Rovell:

A report in September by the Brookings Institution revealed that $3.2 billion in federal taxpayer money, through municipal bonds, has been used to fund 36 newly built or renovated sports stadiums since 2000. The largest federal subsidies, according to the report, include the New York Yankees ($431 million), the Chicago Bears ($205 million), the New York Mets ($185 million), the Cincinnati Bengals ($164 million) and the Indianapolis Colts ($163 million).

Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.) introduced a similar bill last year, H.R. 4838, which would prohibit pro sports franchises from seeking federal taxpayer financing for stadiums. But that bill is still looking for a co-sponsor.

Oh, this is going to happen sooner or later. Any time you have bipartisan support for a bill, that’s a rare, precious thing — like dinosaur eggs. Remember — life finds a way.