Search form

Report: Billionaires Are Relying On Public Assistance To Build Sports Stadiums

Report: Billionaires Are Relying On Public Assistance To Build Sports Stadiums
Mon, 9/23/2013 - by Martin Michaels
This article originally appeared on Mint Press News

Despite having billions in personal wealth, the owners of professional sports teams are increasingly relying upon taxpayer subsidies to pay for stadiums or renovate existing ones, ThinkProgress reports. Across the U.S., taxpayers have been asked to foot the bill for lavish stadiums that have gone over-budget by some $10 billion in recent years.

The report follows the publication of Forbes’ list of the 400 richest Americans, a who’s who of the mega-rich in the U.S. Atop that list is Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who boasts a fortune of $72 billion. Behind him comes Fortune 500 CEOs, investment gurus and 32 owners of professional sports teams, including 14 NFL teams, according to a recent ESPN report.

The richest among the owners of sport teams is Paul Allen, who owns both the Portland Trail Blazers and the Seattle Seahawks. His fortune of $15.8 billion makes him the 26th richest American on the Forbes list this year.

When it comes to financing stadiums, cities are typically promised increased tax revenue, jobs and the prestige of hosting a professional sports team — but some economists say that this amounts to a raw deal for cities.

Andrew Zimbalist, the Robert A. Woods Professor of Economics at Smith College and a specialist in public investment, believes that when it comes to public financing of stadiums, taxpayers usually get a poor return on their investment.

“All of the independent, scholarly research on the issue of whether sports teams and facilities have a positive economic impact has come to the same conclusion: One should not anticipate that a team or a facility by itself will either increase employment or raise per capita income in a metropolitan area,” Woods said in a statement last year.

In many cases, cities already understand this poor investment and have rejected recent proposals by owners for public funding.

St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke was one of those owners. Despite amassing a fortune of $5.3 billion, Kroenke and the Rams have repeatedly asked the city of St. Louis for more than $700 million in public funds to renovate the Edward Jones Dome. The city rejected the latest plan in July, although Mayor Francis Slay’s office believes that Kroenke will continue trying to push for funding.

“There was nobody in St. Louis who thought that the Rams proposal was a good idea, other than the Rams,” the chief of staff to the mayor said at the time.

In Minneapolis, a contentious plan to publicly fund a new $945 million Minnesota Vikings stadium was approved by the state legislature despite opinion polls showing significant public opposition to the plan. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported in 2011 that 60 percent of respondents thought the Vikings should keep playing in the Metrodome, the team’s home for the past 29 years.

Nearly 75 percent said Vikings owner Zygi Wilf should not get taxpayer money for the new stadium, which is projected to open in 2016. There was no public referendum to determine if taxpayers wanted to fund the stadium.


Article Tabs

Rebel Cities are desirable as a form of disobedience that defy states, legal frameworks, supranations or markets.

Group of Five, Group of 10, G-5, G-10, global governance, World Bank, IMF, Group of 20, G-20

An overlapping and highly integrated network of institutions, committees and secret meetings of ad-hoc groups collectively make up the most powerful and informal political structure in the world.

Gayle McLaughlin, Richmond Progressive Alliance, Jill Stein, eminent domain, fracking ban, illegal foreclosures, Black Lives Matter

We will have to dismantle the corporate state, piece by piece, from the ground up – no leader or politician is going to do it for us.

Roosevelt Institute, Joseph Stiglitz, growing inequality, wealth inequality, income inequality, income gap, Great Recession, New Deal, FDR

Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz has led a report called "Rewriting the Rules of the American Economy," which seeks to simultaneously reform the financial sector and wrest power from the 1% while redistributing wealth to workers.

refugee crisis, Refugees Welcome, E.U. migrant crisis, Lewisham Refugee and Migrant Network

Glasgow Council became the first local council in the U.K. to offer guaranteed support and accommodation to refugees surging into Europe from Syria, Afghanistan and other war-torn countries.

How will the state pay for these new tax cuts that primarily benefit the rich? By raising taxes on the poor, of course.

Posted 2 days 5 hours ago

The idea for an international bank had already been explored to some extent by people like the economist John Maynard Keynes. But the idea for the bank truly took off during the Young Conference in 1929, when the Allies were attempting to exact Germany’s reparations debts for WWI.

Posted 6 days 5 hours ago

Only roughly half of the 50 states have worker co-op statutes on the books.

Posted 6 days 5 hours ago
Acronym TV, Whole Foods, prison labor, Colorado Correctional Industries, for-profit prisons

The health food giant partners with Colorado Correctional Industries, which boasted in its 2014 annual report that the company's “success is completely dependent on the business savvy of our staff and the dedication of our inmate workforce.”

Posted 6 days 6 hours ago
Detroit foreclosures, Wayne County Tax Foreclosure Auction, tax foreclosure auctions, online auction, foreclosed homes

The largest known municipal foreclosure sale to date, the Detroit home sell-off could be a modern take on Manifest Destiny – luring would-be frontiersmen and speculators from across the world to try their hand at “buying Detroit.”

Posted 3 days 6 hours ago
The Port of Los Angeles. (Green Fire Productions / Flickr)

After years of tenacious effort, workers throughout the nation's largest port – spread across parts of both Los Angeles and Long Beach, CA – may soon share one important tool their predecessors once had: a union.

Acronym TV, Afghanistan bombing, hospital bombing, Taliban, Barack Obama, Doctors Without Borders, war crimes, War on Terror

The United States marks the 15th anniversary of its military invasion and occupation of Afghanistan this week, with no end in sight.

bank bailouts, Wall Street crimes, Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, Great Recession, illegal foreclosures, banking crimes

The former Fed chair says that, in addition to banks and corporations paying billions in fines for their illegal activities that triggered the economic meltdown and Great Recession, individuals should have also been held accountable.

mountaintop coal removal, Don Blankenship, Massey Energy Co., coal mine explosions, coal mine disasters, Mine Safety and Health Administration, Alpha Natural Resources Inc., United Mine Workers of America

Prosecutors charge that Don Blankenship lied to financial regulators and conspired to violate safety regulations before April 5, 2010, when a massive blast in the Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, West Virginia killed 29 men.

This week, it's about time we hear about climate change – but really hear it.

Sign Up