Monday, October 18, 2010

Sitting amongst subsidized millionaires...

...well, not exactly amongst, let's say above.

On Sunday we attended the Rams/Chargers game at the Edward Jones Dome. Our seats were located halfway to the top of the nose bleed section. Corner of the end zone. Great game. The resurgent Rams won by a score of 20-17, evening their record to 3 wins and 3 losses.

These days, professional sports teams get subsidies to build stadiums. I like football and I like baseball, so I don't mind part of my tax dollar going to such things, especially when we have a winning team. If that's what it takes to keep big league sports in town, I'm open to it.

Our society subsidizes lots of things. Highways, military spending, the arts, police and fire protection, libraries and schools. Why not entertainment?


Chris said...

The one issue that I have with this viewpoint is that the subsidized services that you mention more directly benefit all members of society. Unless you're a sports fan, you receive little to no benefit from this form of subsidized entertainment. The only possible benefit that I can think of would be the benefits of increased economic activity. And unless I own a business near the stadium, this is a very slight benefit indeed.

Rick Bonasch said...

Close to a million people a week attend NFL football games during the season.

I wonder how many people in the US visit a museum or library over the same time period?

I'm in favor of supporting them all.

Dave said...

Museums and libraries are (usually) non-profit institutions. I'm not opposed to subsidizing sports but owners shouldn't be making a profit off of it, and yanking franchises out of town whenever they feel like it.

GMichaud said...

The support of for profit millionaire owner and players with public money is iffy at best. It is a symbol of how American has been handed over to the corporations.
And the extortion and threats to leave only compound the basic corruption of the system.
There is no question in my mind millions of people visit libraries or museums. Remember a major difference is that there are no size barriers. You can find a library and a museum in the smallest of cities.
If anything we should be going the other direction, this highest bidder with public money nonsense is damaging, and after millions of jobs have been shipped overseas it sets up scenarios like the 150 million dollars in tax credit given to Ford to keep them in Missouri. Ford is a multimillion dollar profitable company.
Instead health care, education and other services are cut.
America is not headed in the right direction. While I enjoy the Rams and Cardinals, throwing money at their millionaire owners so the can make even more millions demonstrates terribly skewed priorities by our civilization, in fact I find it hard to believe it is even considered acceptable.

Anonymous said...

I concur with those who don't support the for-profit millionaires.

Those team owners don't think twice about leaving cities for more money. Saint Louis should know this better than many other cities. Subsidizing millionaires with free stadiums, while letting all of North city turn to slums isn't exactly what I'd consider my preferred use of tax dollars.

The only people who even benefit in the city are a few bars, and the parking lots.

IMO, the county folks are the ones who care the most about the teams, but they want the city to pay for it.

Rick Bonasch said...

So is no one going to speak in defense of using tax dollars to help build professional sports facilities?

Like the use of TIF on a national scale, what happens when another regions make tempting offers to build stadia with the help of public financing?

Do small to mid-sized markets like St. Louis get trampled in the national competition to attract and retain professional sports teams?

Anonymous said...

Slums in NSTL and state of the art stadiums? Seems like a priority problem.

Rick Bonasch said...

Let's be fair! There are slums in our region outside of North City.

Besides, name a US region with state of the art stadiums and no slums?

I don't think there is such a thing.

Jon said...

What's the benefit of having a sports team?

When you factor in the hundreds of millions of $ that city taxpayers get to be on the hook for, what financial benefit comes from building a new stadium? We're too cold for a Superbowl, so that's out of the question. MLB All Star only happen once (*mmmmayyyybee* twice) in a stadiums lifetime.

Ask Kansas City how profitable the Sprint Center would be if they didn't build the Power and Light District right next door to drive people to the area.

Actually, while you're at it, ask AEG whether they'd be better off without all of the concert revenue, and if they had a professional sports team in there instead?
Some stadiums are actually MORE profitable without sports teams.

Maybe when someone can provide evidence that sports teams actually do anything for a local economy outside of the team's owners and players, i'll change my mind on the topic, but until then, I say "who cares"?

GMichaud said...

No doubt there are slums everywhere, so we just accept them? I spent a fair amount of time in Finland and when I travel I always look for the worse areas of a city. There are no slums in Finland.

However across the Baltic in Estonia, in the capital Tallinn, ruled for decades by the Soviets, reminded me so much of St. Louis with its poverty, slums and general decline that I had to wonder what was really the difference between the communist regime and our so called democracy?

500 million for a stadium, that would accomplish a great deal in degraded areas, create jobs (always the biggest headline for stadium giveaways) and more importantly benefit more than the the uber rich.
It is way past time to stop giving handouts to the wealthy, whose personal welfare state puts any social program for the masses to shame.
Why in the hell do we guarantee millionaires profits of millions more?
With all the cuts made in education, fire, police and so on it makes sense to have detailed debate on how best to expend the money.
Of course the usual tactic is as with the Ford 150 million tax credits: a special legislative session with little or no debate. That along with outright lies and misinformation probably means giveaways to the wealthy will continue unabated.
Why is America no longer prosperous? I think we can thank a government that no longer works for the people. Nero fiddled while Rome burned and he would also be sitting in the stadium watching the Rams.
I would love to support stadiums, but not on the backs of teachers firemen and the people as a whole.
Bring prosperity back to America and then we can support stadiums.

samizdat said...

"So is no one going to speak in defense of using tax dollars to help build professional sports facilities?" O, O! Who will defend us, the wealthy class, we who have everything, and the power to acquire yet more, from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and the wretched hoi-polloi? Study after study has firmly established that these kinds of projects have actually a negative impact on a regions economy, much like defense spending in our national economy. Misspent money and misplaced priorities will not bring this City or this Nation back to a more prosperous and sustainable state. If the wealthy would like to have a new venue, let them build it, with their own money. Not that of the people, who need the money and municipal stability more than they need another hole in the head, er, I mean, another nearly useless sports facility. It's just sports, after all. Perhaps we could use the money proposed for any or updated sports venue instead for music and arts programs in our public and private, non-religious schools, where according to most studies, it would do more good? Yeah, I know. I just threw that one in there as a joke.

Anonymous said...

Do the athletes pay the St. Louis income tax?

Rick Bonasch said...

As far as I know, yes, both local STL and visiting teams are subject to the earnings tax.

Anonymous said...

When did that change?

Rick Bonasch said...

I believe this rule has always been in place.

Collecting the tax from out of town performers, whether they be concert artists or athletes, or visiting doctors and lawyers, has always been a challenge.

However, I am fairly certain that they are subject to the law just like the rest of us.

Rick Bonasch said...

For those still following along, according to a person in the City's Earnings Tax division, 100% of everyone who lives or works in the city of St. Louis is subject to the earnings tax. This includes visiting artists, athletes, lawyers, doctors, everyone.

The city has an arrangement with one of the regional sports authorities to ensure compliance on visitng sports teams

Mark said...

MLB and NFL teams do not need tax money to finance their palaces. They take tax money because they can.

I especially like the way Ballpark Village adds to the skyline. How many years has it been?

Check this out Rick. Do you support the Cardinals to the tune of half a billion dollars?

"The cost of subsidies from taxpayers for the new ballpark comes to around $520 million. Other sources of revenue are about $150 million. This does not include the considerable amount of increased revenue the Cardinals will take in from other sources at the new ballpark--higher ticket prices, premium seats, luxury suites, increased advertising, etc."

Above paragraph was from this link. It is quite an interesting read on the real costs of public financing.

And the Dome? Don't even get me started.

It's really quite simple. If a dome, stadium, etc is such a great thing, investors should be jumping all over the opportunity to provide financing for the project.

And please note that often times, public assistance to the stadium crooks comes in the way of TIF's and not paying property tax.

I just hope you don't wonder why
St. Louis public institutions are shite when their source of revenue, property tax, is given away by the city geniuses to the crooks that own professional teams.

Just wait a few years and watch how Stan the Ultimate Billionaire Business Man will try and hold up the city to finance fixing up the Dome or even building a new one.

Really, Billionaire Kroneke is gonna need public money to finance his project?! PLEEZE!!!

To be civil Rick, at best I think you are misguided concerning your support of using public funds to support private sports entities.

Rick Bonasch said...

Mark -

The difficulty is that in the free market, local jurisdictions compete with each other to lure teams to their communities.

Those competitions often include offers of public financing to build stadiums.

The teams pit the communities against each other to get the best deal.

St. Louis nearly lost the Cardinals due to this sort of auction.

GMichaud said...

The free market is a joke beyond jokes. What free market?, is that a market free to give away wealth to the wealthy?
I have been a fan of the Cardinals since I was a boy in the 1950's. If they or the Rams leave who cares?
The ongoing fraud will eventually sink America so it will not matter who gets what team.
I still find it hard to believe this corruption of continually giving public handouts to the already wealthy, so they can have guaranteed profits (the free market fantasy), is so acceptable that the discussion even considers it a possibility, meanwhile we cut teachers jobs, fire, police, whatever.
The skill of the system is to kill debate and do as they wish.

Anonymous said...

You know, it's really elitist to enjoy bragging about sitting amongst subsidized millionaires when normal every day folks can't even afford to take their family to a ball game.

They expect us to subsidize them with public money and then they lock us out of their games by their prices all the while filling their own pockets.

Use tax dollars for the many, not the few.

Rick Bonasch said...

You did hear the part about sitting halfway to the top of the nose bleed section in the corner of the end zone, right?

The actual millionaires are either near the fifty yard line or in a luxury suite.