Yesterday, I wrote about how the NFL uses the Los Angeles market as a blackmail tool for league owners to use as leverage to get new stadiums or stadium improvements in their respective cities. (See “New Kroenke LA Stadium“)

“Build me a new sports palace or I’m moving the team to LA,” is how the threat usually plays out. Seventeen NFL teams have played the LA card through the years in order to get public funding for new stadiums or stadium improvements in their markets.

Now, St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke says he’s going to build a new stadium in Los Angeles. We’ll see how St. Louis’ political leaders respond to that not-so-subtle threat.

Meanwhile, as of the end of 2014, Cleveland’s taxpayers (Cuyahoga County) have coughed up $127.5 million in the form of a sin tax to fund stadium and arena projects for the city’s NFL, NBA and MLB franchises. (See “Browns disgraceful season“) Starting in 2015, a new sin tax begins that will last 20 years and provide an additional $260-$270 million to the Browns, Cavaliers and Indians.

The city isn’t getting much return for their investment, especially with the Browns who have been horrible. Local taxpayers initially spent $300 million to build a new stadium for the Browns and have been coughing up dough for improvements ever since.

As Cleveland writer Mark Naymik wrote in 2012: “To the City of Cleveland, (the Browns stadium) remains a real financial liability. It’s worsened by a home team that’s been so bad for so long that the city can’t even take pride in the building.

“We need change. We need a better way to pay for stadiums. And we need a football team that finally merits our decision all those years ago to quickly build it a $300 million home on the lakefront.” (See “Cleveland Browns Stadium“)

Naymik wrote that before the Browns, Indians and Cavaliers funded a large-scale campaign to push the latest $260-$270 million sin tax through. (See Cuyahoga County sin tax passes comfortably)

By the way, the Indians’ stadium and Cavaliers’ arena are 20 years old, which means — based on how this blackmail game typically plays out around the country — team owners will soon be knocking on taxpayers’ doors asking for more money for new facilities.

Pro sports leagues in the United States are unregulated monopolies. That remains a very good deal for greedy team owners and a very bad deal for local taxpayers.

–Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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