POLITICS

Could we end sports welfare?

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Timothy P. Carney

Last night, the New York Knicks handily dispatched the Brooklyn Nets, which helped make my night. Yes, I’m a Knicks fan. Yes, the Nets are a local rival. But the Nets have particularly earned my disdain. For me, they symbolize corporate welfare and crony capitalism.

The Nets moved from New Jersey to Brooklyn this year. The move involved eminent domain, politically connected developers, billionaire politicians, handouts, cronyism, and race-baiting. It was ugly, expensive, and unfair. It was everything that motivated both the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street.

Sadly, it was also fairly typical. Sports teams always demand and regularly receive corporate welfare.

Patrick Hruby, writing at Sports on Earth, calls for an end to this:

A policy shift that would not only save cash, but also act as a trust-building, goodwill-generating building block toward larger, harder and more essential partisan compromise.

Ready? Here goes.

Eliminate Sports Welfare….

Hruby cites a new book on sports welfare, but also points to a website about a book called “Field of Schemes,” which reports the following, according to the book’s website:

  • The 121 sports facilities in use during 2010 cost taxpayers about $10 billion more than is commonly reported, thanks to hidden subsidies for things like land, infrastructure, operations, and lost property taxes.
  • Once hidden costs are taken into account, the average sports facility split is 78% public, 22% private.
  • The worst deals for the public include stadiums for the Indianapolis Colts,Cincinnati Bengals, and Milwaukee Brewers, each of which managed to rack up more in subsidies than the stadiums themselves cost to build. Best deals include venues for the Columbus CrewToronto Maple Leafs, and Ottawa Senators.
  • Arenas are generally better deals than stadiums, because they cost less to build. And  small cities tend to get get worse deals than larger ones, since they have less leverage to keep a team in town without large payoffs.
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