03 February 2014

How taxpayers support the National Football League

In the wake of all the Superbowl hoopla, it seems appropriate to offer some excerpts from a trenchant article in The Atlantic:
Last year was a busy one for public giveaways to the National Football League. In Virginia, Republican Governor Bob McDonnell, who styles himself as a budget-slashing conservative crusader, took $4 million from taxpayers’ pockets and handed the money to the Washington Redskins, for the team to upgrade a workout facility. Hoping to avoid scrutiny, McDonnell approved the gift while the state legislature was out of session. The Redskins’ owner, Dan Snyder, has a net worth estimated by Forbes at $1 billion. But even billionaires like to receive expensive gifts...

In Minnesota, the Vikings wanted a new stadium, and were vaguely threatening to decamp to another state if they didn’t get it. The Minnesota legislature, facing a $1.1 billion budget deficit, extracted $506 million from taxpayers as a gift to the team...

A year after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, the Saints resumed hosting NFL games: justifiably, a national feel-good story. The finances were another matter. Taxpayers have, in stages, provided about $1 billion to build and later renovate what is now known as the Mercedes-Benz Superdome... Taxpayers even footed the bill for the addition of leather stadium seats.. Though Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal claims to be an anti-spending conservative, each year the state of Louisiana forcibly extracts up to $6 million from its residents’ pockets and gives the cash to Benson as an “inducement payment”—the actual term used—to keep Benson from developing a wandering eye...

That’s right—extremely profitable and one of the most subsidized organizations in American history, the NFL also enjoys tax-exempt status. On paper, it is the Nonprofit Football League... The insertion of professional football leagues into the definition of not-for-profit organizations was a transparent sellout of public interest. This decision has saved the NFL uncounted millions in tax obligations..

Baseball, basketball, ice hockey, and other sports also benefit from this same process. But the fact that others take advantage of the public too is no justification.


  1. Wait, what? Gov Gifty actually gave somebody something? I thought he was mostly busy trying to extract gifts from others!

    Welcome to America, where regular Americans pay for the profits of the wealthy!

  2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFLU1jw5uEA

    On the exact same topic, from an AnCap perspective.

  3. just more reasons to hate football.

    and more reasons to hate the filthy corruption of the greedy super-wealthy sellout of nearly everybody else.

  4. God bless our brave and loyal corporate job creators! If it wasn't for them think of all the money we would have wasted on: schools, infrastructure, scientific research...

    And just think of what the $729 million dollars PER DAY spent on The Iraq War could have done for universal health care.


    "The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will ultimately cost between $4 trillion and $6 trillion, with medical care and disability benefits weighing heavily for decades to come, according to a new analysis.
    The bill to taxpayers so far has been $2 trillion, plus $260 billion in interest on the resulting debt. By comparison, the current federal budget is $3.8 trillion."


    But those are mere facts- the people really robbing us blind day in and day out are those minimum wage cry babies demanding raises just so they can afford rent! At least we have Wall St. to set the example with their stalwart resolve to responsibly lead the way through this financial chaos.

  5. I live in Santa Clara - the home of Levi's Stadium - and voted in the election in which the 'Niners stadium was approved. To say that the politicians are "taking money from" the public is literally true, but you'd be wrong if you painted a picture that many people don't see anything wrong with this. The measure that has brought our city an NFL stadium was so hotly contested, and in the end, the marketing suckered so many morons into approving it by appealing to the tribal nature of humans.

    Insidious is the word. I can't see why people won't check facts, unless it's the obvious - they don't WANT to know the truth about how much this "entirely privately funded" project will cost them or what tradeoffs they will have living in the shadow of a sporting arena. They like the idea of being able to take a bus to the game or even walk to it. Nevermind that our relatively tiny police force is literally incapable of handling the thing without hiring officers from other jurisdictions as part time workers. Nevermind that our city-owned utilities (cheaper than surrounding cities' residents who pay for their utilities through a safety-averse corporation that blew up a local neighborhood on accident) will suffer setbacks through "loans" to help build the thing. Nevermind that it's outright fabrication to say that this stadium will bring much needed jobs here - I call BS on that - fast food workers and other service industry jobs won't pay enough for people who live here to take them, and those construction workers that our politicians crow about, well, they're only working until the first kickoff, and then it's back to the lines.

    The NFL needs to pay taxes, and that's as plain as day. And they get all manner of handout, sure. But don't forget that it's US - those of us locals who vote these things in (whether we voted for or against individually) that are to blame for a large chunk of our income going to reward grown men getting paid millions to administer or play a kid's game.

  6. To be fair though, building stadiums does help boost the local economy. If people are going to be coming from San Francisco to watch a game in Santa Clara, and then buy dinner or something, it would help the city in the long run. But if only locals are going to Levi stadium, then there isn't any real economic gain.

    1. Locales that have lost stadiums have proven this to not be true.

      Overall economy does not go down, it gets spread around into local restaurants & other entertainment businesses.

      So this happens in reverse when they are built, it localizes a lot of money and if you are not within a certain radius of the stadium or stationed along a convenient egress path, your business will lose money.

  7. I don't see how some out-of-towners grabbing a bit at local eateries will "help the local economy." Honestly, if restaurants were huge money makers, there would be more of them. For a few people, it will provide some honest work for probably modest pay.

    But even if you're right, and you most certainly are within a few city blocks of a stadium, does that "boost" actually outweigh the costs to the city (and its taxpayers).

    I researched this when it came up on the ballot, and was not surprised to see that the 'Niners and the York family trotted out the same tired "studies" that showed that golden unicorns and rainbows would pour out of the stadium as soon as the gates opened. I quickly googled "studies about building stadiums" and these articles were all on the first page of results. They are similar to those that read back when I voted against what is now Levi's Stadium.

    (note the next one is from 1997 - looks like naught has changed!)

    Bottom line for me is this: We either need to end the Bread and Circuses approach, or let those who aren't interested in paying taxes to fund millionaires (and billionaires!) efforts to get even richer off the hook. Since the latter ain't likely to happen, I'd really like to see the governments stop giving away my money to people who don't really need it. If you're going to just give it away, give it away to a school or work training program in my area - that will do more for Santa Clara than ten stadia ever will.


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