Billionaire’s Nightmare: The bill to end taxpayer funded stadiums is finally here

The next time you’re sitting in a stadium, looking around at the thousands of other fanatics around you, sipping an $11 beer and debating spending an extra 30 bucks on a t-shirt to commemorate the regular season victory you’re currently so fired up about, remember you helped build that stadium. Yes, you and the wallet that just got sucked dry to have that memorable evening were part of the process of building stadiums for billionaire owners. A process that could be finally be coming to an end.  

While we mostly sit around and complain about how much everything costs and try to come up with a diabolical plan to sneak in booze like we’re Danny Ocean from Ocean’s Eleven, we usually forget that a large number of the stadiums we’re sitting in come out of taxpayer’s pockets. You could be one person to just shrug it off and cite how much money is generated by stadiums, before promptly realizing how much of that ends up in the owner’s pockets, and how much debt we are truly in.

According to a September report by Brookings Institution, an absurd $3.2 billion has been spent since 2000 to go into building 36 stadiums. Next time you’re sitting in Yankee Stadium ($431 million), Soldier Field ($205 million), Citi Field ($185 million), Paul Brown Stadium ($164 million) or Lucas Oil Stadium ($163 million) that hard piece of plastic you’re sitting on is going to start feeling a little bit less comfortable.

No worries, the change we’re all looking for could be here, thanks to a bill that’s being proposed to the Senate to prohibit teams from using taxpayers’ money to help with stadium construction.

 


No one’s been this fired up about billionaires funding their own stadiums since Bill Simmons cut a promo trying to be the badboy of the sports reporting world.

Even though Simmons’ show barely had more episodes in its existence than a single season of Orange is the New Black before it got cancelled, he has a point.

Senators Cory Booker (NJ) and James Lankford (OK) are sponsoring the bill to stop teams from using municipal bonds without interest to fund their stadiums. To try to say it simpler, these teams and owners are generating billions of dollars in revenue, and still somehow receive federal tax breaks to help fund their projects.

While we are somehow trillions of dollars in debt according to Lankford, we’re still helping out the millionaires who hang out in the owner’s box while you slum it in the cheap seats and pay $14 for a hot dog and fries.

“Everyone likes free federal money to build their expensive stadiums, but with $20 trillion in federal debt, this is waste that needs to be eliminated.”

James Lankford 

It’s insane to think funding for things such as public schools and transportation could take a hit so there can be a big new stadium that fits a few extra thousand people and has a jumbotron that can be seen from space. Whether you’re looking to make the argument that not everybody goes to these games that take place in the stadiums everyone’s funding, or making a bulleted list of the hundreds of other things to fund instead that popped into your head, it’s all relevant in the argument against extorting taxpayers’ money.

In case you wanted a clearer way to phrase it, we have the perfect man to sum it up in simpler terms. Ladies and gentlemen, the man who gave you Forrest Gump and Saving Private Ryan, Mr. Tom Hanks!

It’s a billion-dollar industry, they have billion-dollar TV contracts. All the owners are billionaires. And yet when they want to build a stadium they’re going to use for 10 weeks out of the year, they expect the city taxpayers to buy the building.”

Tom Hanks.

It really can’t be clearer than that. Hanks, a man who is far from thrilled about his Raiders moving from Oakland to Vegas hit the nail right on the head. Think about the stadium that’s being built that’s taking his precious team away from Oakland, that little dome that will cost a whopping $750 million in public money. According to Business Insider, that breaks down to $354 per resident. Money that’s just going right back into the owner’s pocket. You know who doesn’t mind all of this? The owners, who voted 30-1 in favor of moving the Raiders into this brand new stadium.

You know who was that one man who didn’t vote in favor for it? Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross, who’s on the same page as you and me.

 

Fins up baby. That’s the mindset plenty of owners should have, but don’t. Like Ross said, if you’re an owner, you should have the deep pockets to handle your own issues. You’d think the man is just all talk and is acting like the hero since this bad boy was being approved by the owners anyway, but Ross spent $500 million of his own money to repair Hard Rock Stadium where his Dolphins play in Miami. That should be the Webster’s Dictionary definition of putting your money where your mouth is.

Our country simply can not afford to put money into that type of investment. When you’re talking about things to put on the chopping block, this has to be towards the top of the list. Now, this isn’t a call for a revolution. I’m not expecting you and your four roommates to stare at a blank television on Sundays now instead of watching NFL Redzone and eating your body weight in finger foods. That move would be less than an gnat trying to give you the beating of a life.

This is something that can make a much larger impact. It’s a far cry from changing prices at stadiums or bitching about how much it costs to park your car when you head to a game. It’s about ending the extortion, and finding something better to fund than the Scrooge McDuck swimming pool full of money these owners can afford. If this bill is passed, I’m sure billionaires will still be able to wipe their tears away with the unconscionable amount of money they have in their pockets while they fund their own projects.