NFL stadiums have received an estimated $6.7 billion from taxpayers

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With Nevada kicking in $750 million to build the Raiders a new stadium, NFL teams have now received nearly $7 billion in tax money to build stadiums over the last two decades.

According to an analysis from ESPN, the total price tag to taxpayers for building new stadiums and renovating old ones has been $6.7 billion since 1997. That includes 19 new stadiums and three major renovation projects.

Not every team has received public money. The stadium the Jets and Giants share in New Jersey was financed privately, and the stadium the Rams and Chargers will share in Los Angeles is being financed privately as well.

The NFL still makes most of its money from its television contracts. But there may not be enough attention paid to how much money the NFL makes from state and local leaders who are eager to attract teams or keep teams in place, and willing to pay a lot of taxpayer money on stadiums.

67 responses to “NFL stadiums have received an estimated $6.7 billion from taxpayers

  1. That’s ~$216 million per stadium (Jets/Giants share) or $10.8 million per year.

    I’m not against letting owners pay for their own stadiums, but then you can’t complain when someone like Stan Kroenke decides where he’s going to build it. Too many people think the owners have to be beholden to their fantasy.

  2. The immorality of this is staggering.

    The next time a team owner threatens to move a team if the local government doesn’t pay for a new stadium, here’s what I want to see happen:

    The “public financing” is taxes – whether income, property, hotel, sales or food. These taxes are paid by all the citizens in the form of higher prices. This includes the people on the low end of the economic scale – housekeepers, janitors, entry-level office workers, teachers, etc. I want the owner to come into a room with a dozen or so of these workers, and explain to them why they should pay for the stadium instead of him.

  3. your taxes pay for the stadium,
    you then have to pay a PSL for the right to buy a ticket
    then you have to buy the ticket

    man have the owners got people brainwashed.

  4. Fact: In the time it takes me to type this response, on average, about $10 million worth of taxpayer dollars have been spent.

    We spend so much time and energy bothering ourselves with the trivial. If cities want to spend money to attract NFL teams, then let them. There are FAR worse things your tax money is being spent on right now.

  5. I’m not a fan of the public underwriting the mega-rich by any means, but I would be curious to see a deeper story on what cities see as far as a return on their investment. (If any, and how long before a stadium shows a profit.)

    I know St. Louis is still paying debt on their stadium venture.

  6. “Welfare for the rich” chants are just ignorant. People don’t understand there is a free market in which we operate. These teams are in fact owned by billionaires, but they also generate thousands of jobs, and create millions of dollars annually to boosting the local economy, and generate millions of dollars in taxes collected long term.

    The reason cities are willing to help out financially with these stadiums is because they feel they are “better off” with these sports teams in their cities than they are had they got up and left. You can ask for the owners to pay a full $1.5 Billion out of their own pocket and just let the city collect all the benefits for their city for “free”, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable for an owner to have the attitude of “This is going to be a big help to both of us (me personally, and the city as a whole), and I think it’s fair that we both contribute to the cost of this. If you don’t want to, thats fine, but there are 5 other cities that would appreciate this opportunity and are willing to help out with this”. Not an unreasonable stance in my opinion…

  7. And how much money have NFL stadiums brought to local businesses and communities in which these stadiums attract millions of people a year to the locality and further? Are NFL owners getting a cut of the money brought in by their teams to other businesses? Nope.

  8. Some public funds for stadiums makes sense, as (beyond NFL games) they are used for events that benefit the public.

    However, our tax dollars financing entire stadiums for these billionaires is ridiculous. Anything more than 25% is a crime against all of us who could better benefit from those funds.

  9. All the taxpayers need to do is stop voting to do give the funds away.

    NJ Stadium was built with public $….just not the public as a whole. Season Ticket holders built it with PSLs

  10. As much money as the nfl makes they could offer low interest financing to build these stadiums and if these teams can afford a $600mm relo fee then build your own stadium.

  11. “Not every team has received public money. The stadium the Jets and Giants share in New Jersey was financed privately, and the stadium the Rams and Chargers will share in Los Angeles is being financed privately as well.”

    You also neglected to say that Kraft privately financed his own stadium in full.

    There should be no welfare for these billionaires and its just plain insanity with the Trump Cuts coming.

    The Kraft model is the one they should follow. A complex of stores, restaurants, movie theaters and nightclub around the stadium, an MLS team that draws 20,000+ for 20-25 games year, concerts and other events in the facilities.

    Kraft build a beautiful, cost effective stadium for 325 million. These billion dollar palaces they want the taxpayers to pay for are obscene, total overkill and just not needed.

  12. Most of these stadiums are not owned by team owners. They are public buildings and cities make money off events, they do not share that with anyone. NFL teams pay rent and the city gets a cut or sometimes all the parking fees etc. So how many of you that rent would pay for improvements or new home getting no ownership out of the deal and have a rent increase.

  13. If municipalities are dumb enough to allow tax revenue to build stadiums, why in the hell would an NFL team turn it down?

    I don’t agree with it, but not taking tax money offered to your team is just bad business.

    Until every city tells the NFL Owners no, teams will continue to hold them hostage. But, we will never see that day, so nothing will really change.

  14. As a die hard football fan anyone who supports public dollars for a NFL Stadium is an idiot .

    It will not create good jobs.

    It will not make your city a world class city

    it will not be an economic engine

    and when the next fool city is willing to give them a better deal they will leave you in a heartbeat.

    Spend the money on creating better schools ,parks, infrastructure, and services .

  15. Who cares? Honestly, if you are concerned about this you should also be screaming about every single wasteful government expense. Otherwise, find something else to be fake outraged about.

  16. Robert Kraft only received public money for infrastructure work on route 1. Route 1 is a state highway. He did not receive any money toward the construction of the stadium. In fact he built the stadium without PSL’s. As a result we may have higher prices however the stadium is paid for and we have a great home field advantage.

  17. Time for this Corporate Welfare to stop. These bums make a killing on PSL’s as it is! Who ever heard of having to pay big money for the right to purchase a ticket! These vampires will continue to suck the monetary lifeblood from us until we say STOP.

  18. This is ludicrous.
    Unfortunately, it will never change so long as politicians are in the billionaires pockets.

  19. The outcry is understandable and logical. However, the NFL has masterfully kept team supply << demand and played cities against each other.

    And there's another frustrating aspect. States and cities that give teams financial incentives almost always try to avoid voter referendums on it – because those usually fail. Your only recourse is the following election.

  20. Public tax money coerced as ransom just so hometown fans can then have the privilege of paying huge fees in the name of personal seat licenses, then buy already expensive season tickets, pay $40 for parking, $16 for beers, $9 for a brat or $8 for a cole all while drunks fight and act belligerently like imbiciles. And if the fans choose not to go, the game might be blacked out on local TV.

    The tombstone of the once great NFL will be emblazoned by one name and one symbol: Goodell and The Dollar Sign.

  21. And if they want communities to pay for and build stadiums, they should expect to pay $ignificant rent without a pile of tax breaks just like the hard working citizens who live in those cities have to do. It’s just business after all, isn’t that right?

  22. States and cities should never give cash to these projects, if they feel it is necessary to keep the team in the community then they should just continue the practices they use to keep and lure businesses to their communities. Tax Incentives, giving the land to reap future taxes etc…

  23. How much in tax revenues to a local economy does an NFL team generate? Can’t cry foul while only one side of the equation is continually reported on. Might be corporate welfare but then again it might be smart money……

  24. An absolute public disgrace which does not even make the nightly news. It’s major corporations as well as professional sports teams. You would think that it would result in some fashion of congressional reform but I guess they are largely part of the same problem –sad

  25. I wonder how many current NFL cities would be able to fund a stadium ? SD and Oakland just turned down public financing for stadiums and their teams moved. Could Detroit , Buffalo , Nashville , New Orleans , Tampa , Jacksonville ? What will happen if they cant finance a stadium with public money ? Will they all move ?

  26. How can the NFL take taxpayer $$ and then send teams out of the country thus reducing home games. If I lived in a city with an NFL team, I’d be thinking about a lawsuit against the NFL.

  27. And that is just for stadiums, this doesn’t include other revues they collect from each state.

    The fact is, these owners didn’t create this environment, our elected officials did and since we elected them, then we also did. So, we can’t get angry when the money stops and the owners decide to relocate. if all 50 states banded together and said no more public money to build stadiums, the NFL will find another way to exist.

    I have no problem with helping companies to start out but once they are entrenched in the community, we shouldn’t have to keep paying them to run their shop when they are making the type of money the NFL teams are making.

  28. It’s not just stadiums.
    Exxon wants tax abatements for a new facility they want to build? Towns line up with offers because of the promise of jobs, etc.
    Auto company needs a new plant? How about the city buy the land and give it to us. And if you don’t we’ll build somewhere else.
    And. while you’re at it, we could use some new roads in the area; that our heavy trucks will demolish and then the city will be on the hook for repairs.

    Legal bribery. Remember that the next time you read a story about corruption in Mexico, Russia, etc. We ain’t pure as the driven snow over here either.

  29. It sucks when it happens but how can you blame an owner? They are businessmen. As long as a city is willing to offer owners will continue to move. The NFL was never going to walk away from 750 million.
    And you can’t blame Oakland for not doing anything either. They have a whole host of other issues.
    Can’t blame Kroenke for leaving St. Louis as the value of the team increased by 1 billion.
    San Diego was the one that probably could have worked it out. I think their concern was the Raiders in LA if the Chargers didn’t take that spot. Then the Chargers would have had little leverage in their negotiations and the Raiders on their doorstep.

  30. State and Local governments have spent far more on other forms of public entertainment such as music venues, municipal golf courses, ski areas, zoos, museums, play houses, tennis & basketball courts, dog parks and swimming pools. In addition to baseball, soccer, basketball and hockey arenas.
    If the government wants out of the entertainment business, I don’t have a problem with that. Just don’t single out one group.

  31. well one thing is a fact- never before has any state given close to a billion dollars (950 million) of public money to go to the construction of a venue. This decision as he is laying off teachers today and has no money for education, will be the demise of Gov. Sandoval in NV.

    The Gov. states that he wants to diversify from tourism and hospitality, and bring in companies like Tesla, etc. Yet Nevada does not have enough educated people to work there. The state has plenty of dancers, and dealers, but not enough engineers.

  32. It’s amazing how much corporate welfare there is in this country. The irony is how many of these conservative owners vote for candidates that claim to advocate a “free market”

    The reality is we: socialize the risk and privatize the profit. Remember this as all the talk of privatizing parts of the federal government are discussed in the months and years to come.

  33. What the NFL has going for it is that the owners behave as a bloc to play cities off each other. Cities should do the same, but instead they compete against each other to attract a franchise. They should wise up.

  34. mongo3401 says – “6.7 billion could lift a lot of people out of poverty”.

    No, it couldn’t. Trillions of dollars have been spent since the “war on poverty” was declared in the 60’s. It hasn’t made a dent in the poverty rate.

  35. NFL sets aside 1 billion a year and gets in the business of building stadiums. If the team owner wants a new stadium they are given the option finance it yourself or let the NFL build it and pay rent. It’s safe to say the municipality will have to give the land or sell far below market rate in order to keep the team and the tax revenue.

  36. People don’t understand there is a free market in which we operate.
    The US has not had a free market since the 1980’s. We operate in a fixed market set be big business who spends billions every year to keep the market fixed though lobbying. Which is another word for legal bribery. As long as we have legalized bribery in Washington we will continue to operate in a fixed market. Both R and D are equally as guilty in making sure the market stays fixed in return for campaign contributions.

  37. Here’s a thought…if cities are expected to front the money for stadiums, then cities should get a portion of that team’s profits each year.

    I think a 7% share annually for the resident city would be more than fair.

  38. “No, it couldn’t. Trillions of dollars have been spent since the “war on poverty” was declared in the 60’s. It hasn’t made a dent in the poverty rate.”

    Spoken like a Trump supporter, and a complete twisting of the facts.

    It has helped keep a large number of people from becoming homeless. You don’t think it makes a difference? Then try to imagine how crowded the streets would be without it.

    Not to mention, crime would skyrocket because people would be desperate.

  39. Rich people don’t get rich by spending a billion dollars of their own money on something that is not going to make their business that much more profitable (valuable yes, profitable no). NFL teams make between $200-$300 million dollars every year through the revenue sharing program and that’s mostly from TV revenue. Any additional revenue gained from a team’s new stadium would be split among the 32 NFL teams. Therefore, it doesn’t make fiscal sense to spend a billion dollars on something that isn’t making you any richer.

    You can’t be mad at an owner for wanting public money if the public is willing to give it to them and they aren’t breaking any laws. That’s like getting mad at someone for using a coupon. If you want billionaires to pay for new stadiums, talk to your congressmen and your senators about making a federal law against it.

  40. Some people, including the writers here, need to do a little research.

    The Oakland Coliseum, Edward Jones Dome and Qualcomm Stadium where all built and owned by the cities they were located in for the single purpose of attracting pro sports teams to come to their city. The cities then charged the teams rent.

    This isn’t billionaires asking for a hand out. Just like Oakland built the Oakland Coliseum in 1966 and then had the A’s move from Kansas City, Las Vegas is doing the same thing. Funny how that happens when karma bits you in the butt! You “stole” the A’s from KC and now Vegas is “stealing” the Raiders using the very same tactic you used in 1966.

    Now Buffalo is in the same situation. Erie County owns the stadium. I can understand outrage when/if an owner currently owns his own stadium and then tries to get government help pay for a new one via taxes. But that’s not what was happening in Oakland, St. Louis or San Diego or what is currently happening in Buffalo. Those cities have/had the opportunity to keep their tenants by supplying them with their needs. They choose not to do that. The tenants then found a landlord that would. It’s that simple.

  41. Make the NFL pay it. Owners should be part of the financing as well. The NFL takes in billions of dollars a year. If they’re going to pressure teams into building new stadiums, they should participate with the funding as well.

  42. @petedutcherjr – Keeping people from being homeless isn’t lifting them out of poverty.

    Try not to confuse macro and micro situations. On a micro level, obviously some individuals have been aided by poverty programs. On a macro level, trillions of dollars have not made a significant difference in the poverty rate since the Johnson administration.

  43. davidgreene81………. Not sure what happened in Oakland or San Diego but I do know what happened in St. Louis. They did build the Dome for the Rams. They did have a stadium plan in place for a new stadium for the Rams. STLs offer was better than any plan SD or OAK. ever had. Lets not get this wrong. The only reason any of those teams moved is for more money in other cities which goes against the bylaws of the NFL. No team can move unless all options are exhausted in their current city. No team can move for pure profit. Maybe SD and OAK were exhausted but STL was not. Now , Im not that stupid to know that each owner and the NFL can and does manipulate each situation to make it work for them. In the Rams case , SK was never going to except any offer STL put before him other than maybe paying for the entire cost of the stadium and then maybe the NFL would have either moved another team to STL or worked something out with SK to swap franchises. Bottom line is SK wanted to be in LA and the NFL was not going to turn down SKs $ 3 billion new stadium. Cities that want to keep their team better figure out how to build stadiums for owners that are not going to pay for them or they will not have a team. Other owners are not going to put money into a fund to help other owners build stadiums.

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