Who has it better than professional sports franchise owners? The government has given them monopoly privileges and anti-trust exemptions. And local fans/taxpayers build them large sports palaces (and usually cover a major chunk of maintenance as well), while giving them virtually all revenues from naming rights, parking, and concessions. Oh, and don’t forget the big bucks they pull in from the luxury suites and club suites we build for them in these palaces. Moreover, the appreciation in the value of pro sports franchises is through the roof. Did you catch the sales price of the LA Dodgers? When was the last time you heard of a franchise owner selling his team for less than he purchased it for?

Roldo Bartimole presents a well-done case study on the stadium/arena situation in Cleveland, and in the process does an excellent job of providing an example of the obscene deals big league owners get in general. (See “What to Do About Browns Stadium – Sell It for 1 Buck!”)

“Three billionaires asking for sales taxes on beer, liquor, wine and cigarettes from the many,” writes Bartiomole. “To pay their bills.”

Bartimole goes on to list all the public money — and the various sources — that has gone into the Cleveland Browns stadium. And it seemingly never ends, as the Browns have successfully lobbied for tax extensions. Taxpayers have already pitched in a half billion dollars for the Browns’ playpen, with many more years to pay.

Bartimole asks, “Can you imagine what we’re spending nationally on these sports parasites? In the billions of dollars. And we blame teachers for our fiscal troubles.”

Bartimole suggests selling the stadiums and arenas to the sports franchise owners, free and clear, for $1 and have it over with. Hand the sports palaces, worth millions, completely over to the greedy owners. But as part of the bargain, Bartimole says they should be put back on the property tax rolls. And moving forward, he thinks we should tell the owners to build their own stadiums and arenas and get off the dole.

“Now is the time to tell sports owners — you’re on your own,” says Bartimole. “Grow up.”


–Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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