By Ken Reed
Wisconsin governor, Scott Walker is running for president. On the campaign trail, he loves to position himself as an anti-tax, small-government candidate.
But when it comes to funding sports palaces for wealthy team owners in his state, he’s fine with using taxpayer money.
Walker is pushing a plan to build a new, 80% taxpayer-financed, arena for the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks. Sports economists have called his plan “sports extortion.” Others have pointed out how it is the exact opposite stance to his campaign attacks against handouts to special interests.
Walker’s push for a new publicly-financed arena for the Bucks follows his support of a taxpayer-financed baseball stadium for Major League Baseball’s Milwaukee Brewers back in 1995.
At least he’s consistent.
The tax increase for the Brewers’ stadium, now known as Miller Park, was scheduled to sunset in 2010. But as the 2015 baseball season started, the state still owed $195 million on Miller Park’s debt. Analysts now say that taxpayers will need to keep paying the tax until 2020, if not longer, unless another revenue source is found.
Huffington Post sports reporter Travis Waldron perfectly described the essence of the Walker plan, and similar publicly-financed stadium and arena plans around the country:
“The primary benefits of tax-financed sports stadiums instead go largely toward franchise owners who get a new stadium, revenue sources and often a sizable increase in the franchise’s value without taking on the project’s debt or financial risk.”
A sidenote: John Hammes, a member of the investment group that owns the Bucks, is the fundraising chairman for Walker’s presidential campaign.
Maybe that’s the best indication of Walker’s true values when it comes to tax policy.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #30 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The State of College Athletics with Dr. David Ridpath: Problems and Potential Solutions – Ridpath is a sports administration professor at Ohio University and a long-time member of The Drake Group, a college sports reform think tank.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman. We discuss the state of college athletics today.
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.”
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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Ken Reed’s Author Page on Amazon