Lateralling the cost of privately-owned sports stadiums to taxpayers

While we sports fans regularly lionize the stars of pro baseball, football, basketball, etcetera, it's time to acknowledge that the team executives and owners also are great sports – and they routinely make dazzling off-the-field moves.

While we sports fans regularly lionize the stars of pro baseball, football, basketball, etcetera, it’s time to acknowledge that the team executives and owners also are great sports – and they routinely make dazzling off-the-field moves.

The Miami Herald recently spotlighted one such star up in the owner’s box at the Miami Dolphins’ football stadium. Team CEO Mike Dee was asked in a TV interview whether a nearly $200 million taxpayer subsidy proposed for the team’s privately-owned stadium is “welfare for billionaires.” Rather than trying an end run around the obvious point that the owners ought to pay for their own stadium, Dee plowed straight ahead, running like a hall of fame fullback right up the middle of the question: Rich people, he explained, should not “invest money in a way that is unwise.”

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What a sporting fellow! Just toss the unwise investment to taxpayers – let them fumble it.

Herald writer Glenn Garvin notes that the Carolina Panthers ran an $80-million pass play at Charlotte’s city officials to refurbish the stadium the team owns. When those local defenders of taxpayers’ money offered little resistance, the Panthers quickly called an audible, going long for a Hail Mary pass of $125 million in subsidies. Then, owner Jerry Richardson was brought in to face a closed door meeting with the city council. It looked bad for the team at first, but Jerry turned it around with some deft inside maneuvers, sprinting out of the meeting with a total score of nearly $144 million in public funds.

All across the country, from Tampa Bay to San Francisco Bay, these corporate laterals and quarterback sneaks are ripping-off taxpayers for billions of dollars – money that should go to public needs, not private profits. To check out the game in your area, go to www.FieldOfSchemes.com.

“Referendum or not, still a bad deal,” http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/02/11/3229042/referendum-or-not-still-a-bad.html, February 11, 2013.

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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