Courtesy of Deadspin, this infographic shows the growth of tax subsidies for stadiums over time.
Breaking News out of Tampa, Florida: The state of Florida has paid the owners/tenants of 18 professional sports facilities in the state more than $271 million dollars since 1994 out of a fund for “economic development through sports facilities.” The catch is that the funds were distributed with the condition that the facilities provide shelter to the homeless on non-event nights. I am shocked, shocked I say, to learn that the Bucs, Jags, Marlins, Panthers, and other assorted MLB Spring Training stadiums in Florida have not been opening their doors to the homeless.
I’m sure that Malcolm Glaser wouldn’t mind a bunch of homeless guys camping out in his owners suite in Raymond James Stadium while he’s off tending to Man United. After all, he’s gotten $30 million from the state of Florida since 1997 for this kind of “economic development.” That should pay for the carpet to be steam cleaned when they vacate the premises on game day.
From TSN.ca today is a story out of Quebec City that the city is going ahead with the construction of a new arena in the hopes of luring an NHL team to the city.
When the idea of building an NHL arena in Quebec City arose, the city as well as the province initially sought out funding from the National government as well as the private sector. The National government initially stated that they would be willing to help fund the arena but retracted that statement later.
Currently, the arena is being built without any help from the private sector. The article states that the city will fund 50% of the project and the provincial government will pay the other 50%. As of right now, no NHL will move into that building when it is completed. This is similar to Kansas City, Missouri, which built a new arena with the hopes of luring the Penguins to town. The Penguins stayed and the KC arena does not have a professional sport anchor tenant for the arena.
The question is who gains from QC building the arena. The NHL certainly looks like the big winner. As the article states, “[Gary] Bettman [NHL commissioner] has declared that, even with a new arena, there’s no guarantee that Quebec City will get its Nordiques back.” But with an arena ready, it certainly provides existing franchises leverage to negotiate arena deals with current cities knowing that potentially a move to Quebec City (or Kansas City for that matter) could take place pending a league vote.
My local NHL team, the Edmonton Oilers, play in the second oldest arena in the NHL, Rexall Place. For the past several years, the team and the mayor have been engaged in an elaborate dance around the issue of a new arena for the Oilers. The big questions are where will it be located and who will pay. Darryl Katz, the owner of the Oilers, said long ago that he would put up $100 million for the new arena and has never budged from this position. Of course $100 million doesn’t buy much of an arena these days, so someone else will have to pay for the rest.
Hmm, lets see, where do wealthy sports team owners in North America go when they need a few hundred million dollars for a new facility? The bond market? Nah, that’s crazy talk. Wait, I’ve got it: get the tax payers to build you a new arena! (Stop me if you have heard this story before.)
The results of a survey announced last week throws a big bucket of cold water on that idea. The survey of Edmontonians, carried out by polling firm Ipsos Reid, finds that 76% of Edmontonians “strongly” or “somewhat strongly” disagree with the statement “The City should provide taxpayers money for a new Hockey Arena.” That’s a sizable majority, and the poll results present a problem for those who want the new arena to be built with public funds.
Of course this won’t be the end of the subsidy bid – just ask taxpayers in Pittsburgh who voted against subsidies for new football and baseball facilities in 1997 only to see them built anyway.
(Hat tip to Andy Grabia at The Battle of Alberta.)