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 #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO. He discusses the use of Native American names and logos by sports teams and the decisions to drop the Chief Wahoo logo and the upcoming change to the team name. Other baseball topics include health and safety, possible MLB rule changes and youth participation in the sport.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
Episode #9 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Issues With Ralph Nader – Nader is a consumer advocate and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century” by Time magazine. He is the founder of League of Fans.
Episode #8 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Save College Sports From Overcommercialization and Professionalization? – The guest is Dr. David Ridpath, a sports business professor and past president of the Drake Group
Episode #7 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Brain Trauma and CTE Risk in Sports With Dr. Ann McKee – Dr. McKee works in the field of neuropathology and has demonstrated that “mild” repetitive head trauma can provoke chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a devastating neurodegenerative disease.
Episode #6 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Need for Quality Physical Education in Our Schools is Greater Than Ever – The guest is Clayton Ellis, one of our nation’s leading advocates for getting our young people to be more physically active.
Episode #5 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Youth Sports with Positive Coaching Alliance Founder Jim Thompson – Thompson started Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) in 1998 to help create a movement to transform the culture of youth sports from “win-at-all-costs” to a positive, character-building experience.
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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.
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