Councilwoman Stands against Taxpayer-Funded Stadium — For a While. Major League Baseball was thrown a curveball on December 15 [2004] as District of Columbia Councilwoman Linda Cropp (D) tried to help local taxpayers by changing the financing rules for a proposed new stadium.

: Government subsidies for professional sports stadiums are not only economically unsound, they are unfair to sports fans and non-fans alike.

The modern stadium barely tips its hat to its ancestors anymore, rather it prefers to dance on their graves. How unfortunate to think that one of the establishments that helped to bring America together and forge our nation as one has evolved into nothing more than a greedy child constantly asking for money.

It is not the job of taxpayers to build facilities for private business entities. The mission of No Jones Tax campaign is to prevent taxpayers from paying higher taxes, new taxes, or for new give-away schemes to build a new stadium for Jerry Jones. Jerry Jones can build his own stadium without our tax dollars.

. While the actual sport of baseball is an excellent metaphor for the free market (illustrating how individuals and teams work together and compete against one another), at the professional level nearly all the teams play in government-owned or government-subsidized ballparks.

: From Cleveland to Baltimore to Chicago, cities nationwide have repeatedly been suckered by team owners who claim theycan't operate profitably without state-of-the-art, taxpayer-funded facilities offering luxury boxes and other high-dollar seating arrangements.

. Down the road, maybe these saps — AKA taxpayers — may balk at payingfor stadiums, luxury skyboxes, parking concessions, tax abatements, and various other schemes that funnel taxpayer money to billionaire owners.

: Special interest groups have been quick to tap the public till. Of course, they usually aren't so blunt as to demand tax money for their personal benefit. They have found a more effective strategy: obtain government subsidies for their pet project by arguing that it will benefit everyone in the community. Their project, in fact, is something we all "need." It's amazing what a person will "need" when someone else is picking up the tab.

. Taxpayer subsidization of professional sports facilities is almost always a losing bet, economically speaking. The economic impact studies employed by politicians, the news media, and pro sports owners to support government-financed facilities are beset by methodological problems and don't count all the relevant costs.

. Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Stadium is deemed "economically obsolete for baseball" by boosters of the Forbes Field II project, yet privately owned Busch Stadium in St. Louis, similar in age and design, has generated profits every year since its opening.

On November 29, 1995, the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Business Rights, and Competition of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary held hearings on sports franchise relocation. That testimony is summarized here.

. According to a study by the non-partisan National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF), the in stadium subsidies being offered by local governments would offer few or no benefits to residents.

. Between 1990 and 2000, the average Major League Baseball salary rose 243 percent, and the average National Football League salary increased 143 percent. Tax subsidies help team owners to offset or even inflate these expenses while maintaining their profit margins.

: Research shows that taxpayer-financed sports facilities aren't economically justified, according to economists. A national poll conducted by Media Research and Communications found that 80 percent of Americans oppose using their tax dollars for sports stadiums and areas. But city and state politicians keep building them.

: Economist Raymond J.


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