Bill introduced to eliminate tax subsidies for pro stadium construction

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The NFL’s current controversies have consequences. For NFL teams and all other American pro sports teams, potentially.

A trio of U.S. Representatives introduced on Tuesday a bill that would immediately eliminate a tax subsidy used by professional teams when constructing stadiums.

Via John Keim of ESPN.com, Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), Don Beyer (D-Va.), and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) have proposed what they call the No Tax Subsidies for Stadiums Act.

Speier cited the ongoing Washington Commanders workplace investigation (and the Congressional investigation of the investigation) in explaining her support for the move.

“The NFL has proven once again that it can’t play by the rules,” Speier said. “As such, taxpayers-subsidized municipal bonds should no longer be a reward for the Washington Commanders and other teams that continue to operate workplaces that are dens of sexual harassment and sexual abuse. It doesn’t make economic sense, and it’s particularly galling given the league’s longstanding failure to address issues of sexual harassment and sexual assault as well as on-going racial and gender discrimination and domestic violence.”

“Super-rich sports team owners like Dan Snyder do not need federal support to build their stadiums, and taxpayers should not be forced to fund them,” Beyer said in a statement. “Billionaire owners who need cash can borrow from the market like any other business.”

In recent years, the public mood has soured dramatically on the notion of paying for professional stadiums. Most teams who want or need new or renovated venue nevertheless have found ways to squeeze taxpayer money in their current locations, because other places (like Las Vegas) are willing to throw cash at a team that may move there. At the federal level, there’s really no current need for any type of break — especially as these teams are benefitting tremendously from the explosion of legalized sports wagering.

With more and more states allowing betting programs based on professional sports and with the leagues finding more and more ways to convert the previously-illegal activity (in all states but Nevada) into a major revenue streams, these teams and league will make more and more and more money. The franchises will have more and more and more value. Thus, there’s less and less (and less) reason for taxpayer money to be devoted to private businesses to make ends meet when, to borrow a line from an old Eddie Murphy routine, the ends are meeting like a mutherf–ker.

83 responses to “Bill introduced to eliminate tax subsidies for pro stadium construction

  1. Smh while I don’t support public funding for stadiums this is definitely not something congress should be dealing with right now. This is a local issue and state issue decided by voters in that those areas. There is also the idea or issue that if some of these cites don’t help build these stadiums some of these teams wouldn’t be where they are like Green Bay, Kansas City, Jacksonville, Buffalo, Cleveland, Cincinnati, on and on and on. These cites and states gain revenue and notoriety from having these franchises. Finally what’s the difference between the city and state giving tax breaks and helping big businesses like auto manufacturers, Amazon etc and the nfl or any other sports leagues. In the end it’s about generating revenue and jobs for the state and local municipalities…

  2. I agree with this. Most tax payers can’t even afford to go to the games. Why should they be on the hook for it. Ticket prices constantly increase anyway.

  3. If you want to reduce the amount of new stadiums built, that’s the one way to do it. It still won’t raise any of the extra tax revenue I’m sure they hope for……

  4. About time this nonsense ended. I don’t care how much money these teams “generate” to their local communities. These billionaires should not be using taxpayer money to build their stadiums.

  5. Most sports stadiums are not subsidized by federal tax subsidies, they are supported by state and local tax initiatives which means that this bill doesn’t make sense. The federal government is going to tell local governments that they can’t provide tax incentives to encourage business development in their communities. Municipal bonds are not a federal initiative. They are a state or local initiative. And are we going to start denying tax subsidies for every industry where there are cases of sexual harassment and certain people who have broken the law, because if we do, then every industry that gets tax subsidies will those those incentives but there is not one industry free from those things. This is just political theatre put forth by congressmen who fear that their party is going to get slaughtered in the midterms.

  6. It is about time! Long before this increase in revenue there was plenty of money in an owners wallet to be used for this purpose, hopefully this bill will pass.

  7. Good
    It probably won’t pass, but it will provide some entertainment watching the machinations to defeat it.

  8. If you have a problem with Dan Snyder, go after Dan Snyder. That’s like if one politician breaks a law, they throw all politicians in jail. The NFL generates billions in tax revenue. The players all make millions of dollars and pay millions in taxes. If you’re concern is tax revenue, the last people you should be attacking is the NFL. Typical politician who can’t seem to get out of her own way.

  9. When billionaires have monopoly power they create no lose businesses for themselves and average Americans pay escalating cost for the services.

    Case in point, the major sports leagues, in particular the NFL.

    If you are concerned about inflation, look a little closer at the NFL books and records that are as secret as Donald Trump’s. You don’t buy the bs they are secret because America believes in privacy, do you?

    The average NFL franchise is worth $3.5 billion and the Cowboys lead the league at $6.5 billion. Jones bought the team in 1989 for $140 million (about $300 million in today’s dollars). For tax purposes, that increase in value is unrealized and unrecognized. Cha-ching!

    Despite ever increasing tv contracts and a new partnership with sports betting the owners still want you to fork over inflated prices for parking, ticket prices, food and drink, and merchandise at the stadium.

    A full stadium of rabid fans is integral to television production but there’s no compensation for that performance, just higher prices for the privilege of being in the cast.

    Three Democratic representatives just filed legislation to end tax subsidies for stadium construction. The owners do like communities competing for the their business and are not shy about pitting city against city and relocating franchises despite their monopoly.

    Why can’t Joe The Plumber understand that when billionaire monopolies win, they lose?

  10. About time. Long overdue.
    Chances of this happening though=0%. All that money buys more than stadiums.

  11. Doesn’t it feel a little hypocritical for members of Congress to be calling out NFL owners for bad behavior?? Pot meet kettle

  12. I am so not a fan of public tax dollars subsidizing these stadiums but not sure if putting that decision in federal hands is the answer. Why deny a state that wants to if they are willing to vote on it and if passed contribute to a fund that builds or improves a stadium. Maybe a cap on it like 20% that of course would be voted on by people of that state.

  13. This is absolutely necessary. Owners can buy a team for billions of dollars but they need our tax dollars to build their “store”??

    How crazy is that??

  14. I’m sure this bill will go nowhere, but this kind of thing is needed. Our country bends over backwards to give breaks and exemptions to the wealthy, but then we have absurd arguments that providing something like universal healthcare is “too expensive”. Our priorities are all backwards.

    Let the super-wealthy team owners and sports leagues fund their own stadiums, and without any support from taxpayers. There’s no reason for it. If it’s not economically feasible to build a new stadium without corporate welfare, then they don’t need a new stadium.

  15. It’s about time! My taxes are high enough, the roads are in terrible shape, our local governments are mismanaged, and the rich get richer on the taxpayers back.

  16. Good. Don’t see why a multi billionaire needs my money to build his stadium I can’t get into without paying an extraordinary ticket price.

  17. As a Virginian and former Washington fan, I completely agree. 23 years of Dan Snyder has destroyed that organization and fan base and now you want the taxpayers to help fund a stadium? Get out of here.

  18. Finally something that I agree with from democrats. No money for billionaires! They can build their own playgrounds.

  19. How about no taxes on anyone, period? Would be tough to use taxpayer money to pay for NFL stadiums if they quit stealing it from us all wouldn’t it?

  20. Tax subsidies for 10 guaranteed home games? 355 days of nothing. Minimum wage jobs for most. It’s a complete waste of tax payers money no matter how you figure it and mostly smells of corruption at the highest levels. At least baseball gets you 8 times that number.

  21. If Snyder gives this small segment of Congress carte blanche to run it’s investigation in order to gets pound of flesh, this bill will quickly disappear.

  22. I generally appose legislation that interferes with the free market. However, everything about the NFL goes against the free market. They have the anti-trust exemption, meaning they’re one of the very few entities allowed to operate as a monopoly. And despite the supposedly close eye the government keeps on them, they abuse that power.

    Leveraging the presence of a professional football team in order to suck taxpayer money out of a city has always been a gross abuse of monopolistic behavior. It should’ve never been allowed.

    Since this doesn’t affect the true free market, it seems like something I would support 100%.

  23. So, if this passes, the Pegulas will have to pay for their own stadium in western New York? No more threats of moving if the fan base doesn’t pay?

  24. Most of the people getting taxed for these ridiculous stadiums can’t even afford to attend a game in them. How unfair is that? I recently read the Bills’ owners have already begun attempts to extort the tax payers in that area. Sadly the “bills mafia” is so passionate I’m sure they will vote for the tax increase.

  25. This is something I would be 100 percent behind. Sports teams would no longer be able to hold communities hostage threatening relocation if they don’t get their free money. All the cities should have to do is provide the permits and maybe assist in finding the best location for a stadium as they would do for any other major business in or coming to town.

  26. Anyone who votes Nay to that bill, regardless if the current sponsors are only from one side of the aisle, is a fool, getting paid, or both. It’s about damn time.

  27. This has a zero shot of passing. Good luck justifying the loss of the construction jobs and return on investment to the voters because of moral outrage. Typical political statement that we often see in congress that goes nowhere

  28. This makes tremendous sense. There is no reason the public should be subsidizing the NFL or any of the major sports.

    The owners are organized, the players are organized and they both take advantage of the public who are not organized in any way.

  29. If so, I’m sure the new “cost of business” will be passed on to the consumer. Thankfully many of us have already given up on attending a live game.

  30. I hate to agree with Democrats, but the public funding of a play pen for billionaires to further line their pockets and bank accounts with millionaires playing a kids game is disgusting. It’s even more absurd when you factor in that John Q. Taxpayer and the fans of each franchise don’t mean anything to these leagues.

    Taxpayers pay for these venues, but they’re not available to the public unless said taxpayer purchases an overpriced admission ticket.

    Today, taxes are needed for more important things than a venue to make the rich more wealthy.

  31. Surely this is something about which we can all agree. Not a single penny of taxpayer money should ever be used to fund, subsidize or bail out ANY private business or individual.

  32. Interesting that Don Beyer (D-Va.) is sponsoring this as Virginia tries to lure commanders to Virginia.

  33. People continue to be terribly short-sighted about the benefits of new stadiums. No new stadium is being built as a stand alone entity. All new stadiums include adjacent property development with businesses that produce jobs and tax revenue. Some also include residential development.

    Would you rather that the public/taxpayers benefit from this development or have someone like Kroenke reap all of the benefits?

  34. Agreed. Make the billionaires pay for their own toys. Rising costs in every area of life are straining people almost to a breaking point. Owners are making more and more all the time and should, therefore, not have the luxury of building their biggest toys on the backs of the fans that are already coughing up more than enough money already for their favorite sport.

  35. Good. If I recall correctly, the economic analyses that have been done suggest that the surrounding communities and states see very little benefit to new stadiums in general. They shouldn’t foot the bill for these things and then be blackmailed whenever the owner wants an upgrade.

  36. Somewhere in Las Vegas Mr Davis is partying with a guy in a gorilla suit laughing his butt off.

  37. I mean c’mon NFL owners…if there ever was a reason to want to vote Snyder out, it has to be because Congress name-drops him when taking your goodies away?!?

  38. Taxpayers funding stadiums for billionaire owners is about as far from “fiscal conservatism” as is humanly possible.

    Wake up.

  39. What does any of this have to do with the Federal Government? They need to stay in their lane….

  40. Then the government should make property tax and local municipal tax from the NFL stadiums. The gov makes a huge haul in taxes from these teams…why fans are rooting for the gov to line their pockets and allowing this to be a one way street is baffling to me.

  41. This is more for show than anything else. Not every publicly funded stadium uses bonds, so presumably if this did pass, the owners would simply hit up the local municipalities for public money in a way that does not have a bond issue. That said, I do agree that billionaire sports owners do not need public money for their increasingly expensive sports palaces, however that has nothing to do with sexual harassment of anything else. An owner who does run a tight ship and has a quality organization does not deserve public money anymore than an owner like Dan Snyder.

  42. “Billionaire owners who need cash can borrow from the market like any other business.”

    Well said.

    Give me ONE example of an NFL team that loses money. None.

  43. How much federal funding do owners actually get? Stadium subsidies come from the state and local government level, this seems like an empty gesture.

  44. jwcarlson says:
    February 23, 2022 at 8:55 am
    How about no taxes on anyone, period?
    _________

    Sounds great. How about no roads, no police, no fire department, no ambulances, and no education for our children?

  45. kcrobert10 says:
    February 23, 2022 at 7:02 am
    Smh while I don’t support public funding for stadiums this is definitely not something congress should be dealing with right now. This is a local issue and state issue decided by voters in that those areas. There is also the idea or issue that if some of these cites don’t help build these stadiums some of these teams wouldn’t be where they are like Green Bay, Kansas City, Jacksonville, Buffalo, Cleveland, Cincinnati, on and on and on. These cites and states gain revenue and notoriety from having these franchises. Finally what’s the difference between the city and state giving tax breaks and helping big businesses like auto manufacturers, Amazon etc and the nfl or any other sports leagues. In the end it’s about generating revenue and jobs for the state and local municipalities…

    The story says the bill would eliminate FEDERAL tax subsidies. Not local/state ones.

    Unfortunately, job-rich businesses will still be able to demand money from local jurisdictions. IMHO, it’s really a shame that companies squeeze so many subsidies from locak jurisdictions while their owners profits grow exponentially. And, the disparity between CEO pay and pay for every other employee has grown exponentially in the past fivty years.

  46. The average NFL franchise is worth $3.5 billion and the Cowboys lead the league at $6.5 billion. Jones bought the team in 1989 for $140 million (about $300 million in today’s dollars). For tax purposes, that increase in value is unrealized and unrecognized. Cha-ching!
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Oh,it gets better. The valuation can be used as a basis for loans that provide cash now. Just like JG Wentworth.

  47. This is example 1,000,000 that members of Congress are stupid and don’t understand the Constitution. The reason state and local bonds aren’t taxed by the US government is due to the separation of powers and a very old US Supreme Court decision from before the income tax even existed.

    What state and local governments decide to do with their bonds is up to them, not Congress. Tax breaks for things like oil depletion or child raising are within the discretionary judgment of Congress but they should be kept or eliminated based on public policy reasons, not whether the politicians in power like the people who use them or not.

  48. gibson45 says:
    February 23, 2022 at 10:59 am
    jwcarlson says:
    February 23, 2022 at 8:55 am
    How about no taxes on anyone, period?
    _________

    Sounds great. How about no roads, no police, no fire department, no ambulances, and no education for our children?

    ——-

    Everything you just described are paid for by taxes at the local level. The vast waste of taxpayer money occurs at the Federal level. Why should anyone be expected to pay 39% of their income to Washington DC?

  49. The issue with the NFL for many years is not just taxing local populations, but the complete failure to disclose any financial statements to the public. The NFL existed on tax exempt status for a large number of years…then when some in congress demanded a financial disclosure of the teams…they “graciously” stepped back from that tax status.
    Even now, with the NFL pummeling local politicos for tax support for stadium construction ( and nearby land to build offices, entertainment complexes, etc ), there is simply no outright financial disclosure of any monetary value regarding operating expenses, support entity figures, and more importantly…profit. There is much speculation about what the individual teams and the league as a whole make in profit, but the reality is, nobody really knows.
    Part of the fiasco that is the Redskins/Commanders investigation drifted into financial disclosure requests by some involved…and suddenly the Gruden emails were “leaked” to the public to cover that trail. It seems utterly ridiculous to request local and federal matching funds…when not a soul outside the NFL knows how much real profit is being accumulated.

  50. kcrobert10 says:
    The story says the bill would eliminate FEDERAL tax subsidies. Not local/state ones.

    ———————————————————————————-

    Actually the bill specifically states municipal bonds, no mention of federal tax subsidies…which I can’t recall federal funding being used to fund stadiums. This is why I see the bill failing, local/state governments might not want their ability to make decisions taken away by Congress.

  51. This is political nonsense for the sake of looking like doing something while doing nothing. What federal funds have been given to stadium construction? This is a matter of state and local governments not federal. This will have almost zero real world result.

  52. In Atlanta Blank had land selected in Gwinnett County where he was going to buy the land and build the stadium. Thus moving the Falcons out of downtown Atlanta and out of Fulton County.
    Plus the city politicians would have to explain how they lost both the Braves and the Falcons.
    So the city offered money to Blank to remain downtown, on more expensive property.
    So yes, without subsidies from municipalities, teams will move. Should Atlanta not have had an option to offer something to Blank to keep the team downtown?
    If this law passed an owner like Blank would buy land ‘near’ a city, build their stadium then could offer an opportunity to a franchise in another league. Like the Hawks, and as a private party offer incentives and the current city could not counter.

  53. Seems hypocritical just to go after the NFL, or is it the NFL is not shelling out the campaign cash…how about they expand this to cover the likes of Amazon and Google.

    Also, feels like another over-reach by Congress unless the team is planning to build on federal land.

  54. There are other ways for states and municipalities to help fund stadiums without municipal bonds.

  55. I’m fine with getting rid of subsidies if cities/markets also don’t feel like owners owe them anything. It should be a two way street. If owners are taking all of the risk they should be able to get up and leave on a whim. Yes they are billionaires but they also generate hundreds of millions in direct and indirect benefit for the cities they operate in.

  56. It would be worthwhile to note how many of the stadiums are not owned by the team but by some government authority that has and does use the facility to generate more money for their community. If owners pay for stadiums without tax payer help, then cities also get cut out of the money for hosting concerts, rallys, monster trucks, etc?

  57. This bill has been introduced in KC, Jackson Co MO. Primarily because the Royals want a downtown stadium built soon, with tax payer monies, while we are still paying on renovations done to Royals Stadium and Arrowhead thru 2031. These billionaires want new stadiums, you pay for them, if not, get out of Dodge. Life goes on.

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