Imagine you’re a billionaire who buys himself an NFL team. You’re obviously doing well if you can afford to even consider such a venture, but you’re about to start raking it in big time. At an average of $85 per ticket, 70,000 people or so are going to come pouring through the gates.
They aren’t allowed to bring any food or drinks with them, of course, so if they get hungry they’ll be feasting on $7.50 hot dogs and $16 cheese steaks. If you toss a couple of Oreos in the fryer at a cost of about 30 cents they’ll fork over another six bucks. That’s not including the drinks. The bottom of the barrel at most stadiums is the $5 bottled water.
Owners love to chalk up the price of tickets and concessions to the amount of money they pay their players. That certainly does factor in, but if you walk through your local mall you’ll see ridiculous amounts of merchandise from teddy bears to framed pictures, hats, jerseys, shoes and even pet clothing with your team’s logo on them. it’s not there for free. Multiply that times every mall in a team’s fan base and what you have is an entity that is so ridiculously profitable it goes beyond description.
Why, then, are we footing the bill to build these elitist one percenters new stadiums? With very few exceptions, when an owner wants a stadium, they go directly to those whose campaigns they donate to and get the ball rolling on state funds. They sell fans on voting for these funds because “don’t you want to have a nicer stadium than the one in Philly?” Ask a Washington fan the answer to that one.
At the federal level, owners bilk all of us out of tax dollars through a tax exemption on bond interest that means that even if you live in Billings Montana with no chance of ever going to a Wranglers game (because your market is too small for such a team to exist in any sport), you’re paying for that shiny new facility they’re planning in Los Angeles.
According to a 2012 Bloomberg report, the exemption amounts to roughly $4 billion in federal taxpayer money. In President Obama’s FY2017 budget, the exemption is eliminated, which would create a savings of $542 million for the year and hopefully create a more cost-conscious building process for stadiums that will still be footed largely by taxpayers at the state and local level.
It’s welfare for billionaires. A family of four can save for a year and spend upwards of a thousand dollars for a single afternoon at Texas Stadium, but Jerry Jones should be able to be exempt from millions in taxes because he has so much debt on a stadium he could have written a check for.
The Presidents proposal will, of course, be met with Republican opposition, because they are in the business of giving billionaires as much of your money as possible.
Featured image from cowboyzone.com