By Ken Reed

Several decades ago, Jim Bouton, the former New York Yankee, said baseball owners have it made. “Who’s got a better deal than baseball owners?” said Bouton.

“You have no factories, no raw materials, no inventory and no technological obsolescence in a monopoly business that binds your employees to you for the first six years after they’re hired. The media give you free publicity, the taxpayers build the stadiums and the players provide the labor.”

The story remains about the same today. And it’s not just baseball owners. It’s a similar situation for NFL and NBA owners.

Given that an investment in an MLB, NFL or NBA team is about as good — and safe — an investment as anybody can make in the United States, why does our government also give pro sports franchise owners lucrative tax breaks that teams use to build new stadiums and arenas?

Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) and Don Beyer (D-Va.) recently reintroduced a bill called “No Tax Subsidies for Stadiums Act.” Upon enactment, the bill would halt the lucrative stadium tax break immediately.

“There is no justification for these multibillion-dollar franchises to be eligible for tax-exempt municipal bonds,” said Speier.

“This is tax dollars that could be used for any number of really important public-interest programs. Over the course of 20 years, it [represents a loss of] $4 billion — and probably much more.”

It’s hard to argue with that.

If these billionaire owners need loans they can go down to the marketplace and get in line with other business owners. We don’t need to be giving them taxpayer handouts.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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