The NFL protest debacle is a great opportunity to cut off taxpayer funding for pro sports…. and it can’t come a moment too soon
…. is the title of an excellent article by Bonnie Kristian writing a few days ago in Rare, here’s a slightly shortened version:
An unexpected but welcome result of some lawmakers’ outrage overpro athlete’s political activismis their new impulse to stop government subsidies of pro sports. The Daily Callerreported Sundaythere is fresh interest in the Senate in a bipartisan proposal “that would ban professional sports teams from using municipal bonds in relation to federal funding to build their sports arenas.” Louisiana’s attorney generalis pushing fora reassessment of any taxpayer funding for the New Orleans Saints. And a Washington Postpiece Wednesdaynoted several House Republicans are looking to cut off special tax breaks for the NFL.
More troublesome than federal tax breaks, however, are the outright subsidies state and local governmentshand out to pro sports teamsfor stadium construction.
Last year, I wrote aboutthe appalling situation the people of St. Louis, Missouri, faced when the Rams moved to California. St. Louis taxpayers were left with $100 million in debt from the construction of the Rams’ former home, the Edward Jones Dome — and now that debt must be repaid without the revenue generated by the team it was built for in the first place. Meanwhile, Seattle taxpayers still owe millions for a stadium that isn’t in use because it was demolished a decade and a half ago.
The NFL isn’t the only pro sports league to demand public largesse whileearning enormous profits; baseball, basketball, and hockey are guilty, too. And even when the stadium isn’t trashed and the team stays put,economists generally agreethis is not a worthwhile investment for taxpayers. This is why, when economists are asked “whether or not the subsidies to publicly funded stadiums are worth it or the benefits outweigh the costs,” nearly nine in 10 say all the subsidies should go away forever.
If nixing sports subsidies is one of the results of the protest debate, it can’t come a moment too soon.
Cross-posted from AEI