The pursuit of public funds for football stadiums carries with it certain obligations that wouldn’t apply if football teams would simply build their own buildings. In Florida, the powers-that-be previously passed a law requiring venues that receive public funds to discharge an important public duty: provide shelter to the homeless when the buildings are otherwise not in use.
To date, the three NFL stadiums located in Florida, along with numerous other facilities, have failed to comply. Now, a pair of Republican legislators hope to force the stadiums to comply — or to refund the public money previously received.
“These organizations have failed to follow the law for over 20 years,” Representative Frank Artiles (R-Miami) said in a statement, via the Tampa Bay Times. “This is the simply the State of Florida holding them accountable.”
Per the Palm Beach Post, Senator Mike Bennett claims that none of the 17 facilities that have received public assistance have complied with the law. This includes Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium, Jacksonville’s EverBank Field, and Miami’s SunLife Stadium.
Under a measure introduced by Bennett, counties and/or franchises that have received state money would have to prove the existence of a homeless shelter for use on non-event evenings or refund the money.
According to the Times, SunLife Stadium has received $37 million, Everbank Field has received $35.1 million, and Raymond James Stadium has received $30 million.
It’s a great move. Florida has subsidized pro sports franchises with a clear expectation that the pro sports franchises will help the homeless. The pro sports franchises have pocketed the money while ignoring their obligations.
Here’s hoping that Stephen Ross, the Glazers, and Shad Khan will make this right without having to be forced to do so.