“The NFL is the richest sports franchise, full of billionaire capitalists demanding socialist handouts so they can make even more profits.”
— Ralph Nader
By Ken Reed
The billionaire owners of the Buffalo Bills, Terry and Kim Pegula, have landed $850 million in taxpayer dollars for a new stadium. The deal was approved and touted by New York Governor Kathy Hochuli and other local and state politicians. It will be the largest taxpayer contribution ever for an NFL facility.
According to Forbes, the Pegulas have a net worth of $5.8 billion USD. Nevertheless, they have spent months begging local and state politicians for public money to build a new sports castle, in which they can become even wealthier.
The NFL is a government-sanctioned unregulated monopoly. As such, the NFL can limit competition, and league franchise owners can threaten to move to other cities if their current host cities don’t build them plush new stadiums.
Team owners and politicians typically tout regional economic benefits, i.e., a boost in the number of local jobs, in justifying public subsidies for pro sports stadiums and arenas.
Politicians are crafty in how they go about making handouts to wealthy franchise owners. It’s not just direct payments for building the stadium facility, cities are forgoing real estate taxes, spending money on land and infrastructure improvements, and absorbing interest costs on public bonds, among other methods.
Perhaps the most well-known sports economist is Stanford’s long-time economics professor, Roger Noll. Noll strongly believes the estimated jobs effect of a subsidized sports facility is actually negative because spending at the subsidized stadium substitutes for spending elsewhere for which a greater number of people are employed per dollar spent. Noll emphatically states that publicly-financed stadiums are not a net local economic benefit.
In an interview, I asked Noll how pro sports leagues continue to get away with these stadium heists.
“There’s a socio-cultural impact of sports that enables the industry to do things that other industries can’t do,” according to Noll.
“That’s the answer to the substance of your question. We don’t really regulate it and the reason that we don’t is that it’s hard for us as a society to think straight about the operation of the industry and to strip away the underbrush surrounding it and say, look, these are just extremely lucrative monopolies that have gone well beyond any reasonable coordination mechanism that would be necessary to have a league. And the costs are partly borne by consumers in terms of high prices and lack of availability of games on television, etc., and also via taxpayers paying subsidies.
“So, we’re left with an extremely profitable industry, measured by return on investment, which nonetheless gets subsidized. Instead of getting regulated, it gets subsidized! Which is purely a reflection of the fact that we don’t know how to think straight as a society about the economics and business side of sports.”
The NFL’s sports welfare scam continues, and moves from New York to Tennessee. Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee plans to propose $500 million in bonds in the state budget to help fund a new covered Tennessee Titans stadium in Nashville.
It’s all simply abhorrent.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
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Episode #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan.
Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
Episode #20 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Coaching Youth and High School Sports Based On What’s Best for the Athlete’s Holistic Development – We chat with long-time youth, high school and college basketball coach Jim Huber.
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.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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