Hey, Guess Whose Son Is Begging for an $80 Million Taxpayer Handout for His Pro Sports Franchises?

Hank Paulson's son, that's who!

Direct from the Beaver's mouth:

Very soon, Portland will make a once-in-a-generation decision. We have an opportunity to create more than 600 construction jobs and 300 permanent jobs, an opportunity to leverage at least $40 million in private investment, an opportunity to revitalize our city with millions in private investment and new sustainability-focused development, an opportunity to showcase Portland and Oregon to the nation and world by adding another major league team poised to flourish, and an opportunity for more than 1 million people every year to help build our economy and community. [...]

During tough economic times, some will question investing public resources in sports. But this is about far more than soccer or baseball. It's about putting people back to work now and economic development tomorrow. It's about leveraging at least $40 million of immediate private money. It's about creating new civic gathering places and public investments that enrich our quality of life. And it's about 1 million people each year, coming together, and building our economy and community.

God, I love that "leveraging" line, the go-to economic-multiplier jargon among slicktastic Left Coast politicos from Seattle to San Onofre. I mean, if Barack Obama gives me 10 bucks, that means the D.C. economy will "leverage" my 5 bucks when I buy one helluva $15 sandwich, right?

Well, at least my regionally confident Portland peeps aren't falling for this old wives' shaggy dog story, right? Cue the giant smacking sound of Oregonian columnist John Canzano's lips on Paulson Jr.'s posterior:

What kind of city does Portland want to become?

Some might think sports should not be a priority, particularly right now. That's a defensible, though short-sighted, position. But it's not defensible to shun the chance to land another professional franchise because of Paulson's lineage.

Because I've rubbed elbows with the men who own professional sports franchises. They're all wealthy. They're typically well-educated. They can be disconnected snobs who fail to relate to regular citizens. But I've never met an owner as grounded as Paulson.

Link via Free Andy Laroche via Matt Taibbi via Wonkette. Peruse through Reason's vast anti-stadium subsidy literature starting here. And luxuriate anew in Tim Cavanaugh's devastating critique of Paulson Sr.'s housing panic here.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    They're all wealthy. They're typically well-educated. They can be disconnected snobs who fail to relate to regular citizens. But I've never met an owner as grounded as Paulson

    And they can all afford to build their own stadiums, but would prefer to make the taxpayers pay for it.

    Please SHUT THE FUCK UP.

  • :-\\||

    The grossly inflated salaries and costs associated with pro-sports of all stripes would drastically decline, only if more people would realize that paying hundreds of dollars to watch a game in person is goddamn foolish.

    Especially on a repetitive basis. :-p

  • ||

    This kind of story is why I've almost completely stopped reading fiction.

  • ||

    I live in Portland. Me, my wife, our daughter, and her significant other ride horses and bikes, ski nordic and alpine, snowboard, flyfish, hike, rockclimb, run marathons, and average 7.5 hours in the gym per week. We are too busy for "sports." You'll see us at concerts and the fourth of July Blues festival, but you won't find us at professional sport stadiums this summer.
    Stop the insanity of subsidizing professional sports.

  • John||

    God, I love that "leveraging" line, the go-to economic-multiplier jargon among slicktastic Left Coast politicos from Seattle to San Onofre. I mean, if Barack Obama gives me 10 bucks, that means the D.C. economy will "leverage" my 5 bucks when I buy one helluva $15 sandwich, right?

    Yes, and apparently this multiplier effect only works when government spends money, not private individuals and companies.

  • ||

    Paulson should declare his soccer team to be a Bank Holding Company that way it can get access to the FED and Treasury money stolen from the Federal taxpayer. That way they won't have to depend on piddling amounts stolen from city taxpayers

  • catMoses||

    My home city of Overland Park, Ks, is getting 12 youth soccer fields for only $36,000,0000.

    Only a 50% increase in the hotel tax.

    http://www.kansascity.com/news/breaking_news/story/1254114.html

  • Johnny Rotten||

    Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

  • ||

    I just realized that the jocks are still taking advantage of the indoor kids.

  • Joel||

    Hundreds of new permanent jobs. Lots of supportive business start-ups, millions - no! Billions! - in revenue from retail spin-offs from the sports fans drawn into the area on a regular basis. Instant neighborhood renewal. Tax revenue galore for the city.

    Blah blah blah. Has any part of this grand old lie ever once come true in all the times it's been tried?

  • Cal Lipigian||

    I grew up in PDX and I can't for the life of me figure why they would want a baseball team. With the economic structure of MLB, a team from such a small market would be stuck in Kansas-City-Royal hell until the fan base dried up.

    OTOH, Portland would make a great NHL city and you wouldn't need to build a new stadium.

  • ||

    Hundreds of new permanent jobs. Lots of supportive business start-ups, millions - no! Billions! - in revenue from retail spin-offs from the sports fans drawn into the area on a regular basis. Instant neighborhood renewal. Tax revenue galore for the city.

    Blah blah blah. Has any part of this grand old lie ever once come true in all the times it's been tried?


    No. But this time it will be different. *gags on own vomit*

    It occurs to me that bowling alleys get no subsidies at all and still professional bowling exists. How is that possible?

  • Matt Welch Makes Me Sleepy||

    "God, I love that "leveraging" line, the go-to economic-multiplier jargon among slicktastic Left Coast politicos from Seattle to San Onofre."

    Having worked in the non-profit art sector for a number of years, I can say with confidence that this is one of the most ignorant things you have ever written.

  • Mike Laursen||

    Is Taibbi still writing for Rolling Stone? I subscribed to their RSS feed a few months ago, and haven't seen a single Taibbi post. Just a bunch of brain-dead posts from their other political writers.

  • Gimlet||

    "It occurs to me that bowling alleys get no subsidies at all and still professional bowling exists. How is that possible?"

    Shoe rental.

  • I don\'t need no stinking evid||

    No you're wrong! So there!

  • ||

    """"Blah blah blah. Has any part of this grand old lie ever once come true in all the times it's been tried?"""""

    Well the connected sports team owners, politicians and developers usually make a nice buck off of it and then there are the part time hotdog salespeople, but after that the benefits really drop off steeply

  • ||

    "Matt Welch Makes Me Sleepy"

    most ignorant

    Do explain.

  • Mike Spinney||

    If it were such a great deal, why would any true capitalist with the dough to self-finance want to share the wealth with the public?

    However, I suppose it's good business to try and get some other sucker to put up the money and assume a chunk of the risk, so I don't blame Paulson or any other franchise owner for selling the idea to state or municipal government. Stopping this kind of scheme is the job of public servants who should know better than to fritter away taxpayer dollars.

    Listen to me... wistfully dreaming of politicians doing the right thing.

  • ||

    The powers will always argue for a new stadium, and the stink from their arguments never seems to bother them. The Orlando Sentinel has been running stories about how the Magic need a new arena to be successful. They never acknowledge the irony that they went to the finals in an old arena. They simply state that no team can be successful there. I hope they leave town. Your team too. I hope every sports franchise from every city in America leaves town.

  • ||

    """"It occurs to me that bowling alleys get no subsidies at all and still professional bowling exists. How is that possible?""""

    How many Bowlers make over 10 million a year?

    Baseball and football tickets would be cheaper if the players were paid only prize money.

  • Matt Welch Makes Me Sleepy ||

    "Do explain."

    Often, governments require a non-profit to raise a specific dollar amount in order to receive government funding. So if I raise $2M and the government says by doing so they will kick in $5M, then it's a lot more likely when I approach a billionaire or a foundation that I will get $2M from each of them as well because I already have $7M. Money loves itself.

    So now my paltry $2M has been leveraged to $11M. Or one could say the state's $5M was leveraged to $11M. That means that the state picked up an extra $6M worth of community investment than it otherwise would have were I left to raise capital on my own.

    That's money is going into the construction of the project followed by long-term jobs for artists, ticket brokers, venders, janitors, etc. and years of entertainment for the community at large.

  • ed||

    "Some might think sports should not be a priority, particularly right now"

    How about "never"?

  • ||

    money does not leverage money except when getting government money. Action leverages private money. You may need money to get a project to a certain point and then be able to provide a service which will give you access to another revenue stream or that others will find valuable and support.

    In the case of leveraging gov. $$$ they usually want to see that a project will be self sustaining and not be coming around for gov. handouts every year.

  • robc||

    The extra $4M you got would still have gone somewhere. You just shifted it from one project to another. No extra benefit.

    My city is building a downtown basketball arena. There is a perfectly fine one (Freedom Hall) with plenty of parking (it is located at the fairgrounds). It isnt downtown though, since Fairgrounds normally arent. Even if they needed to build a new one, building it next to the other would have been cheaper and easier for traffic flow/parking/etc.

    The selling point was that it would revive the restaurant/bar business downtown, which is primarily daytime only now (although that was changing already). However, there is going to be no extra eating, instead eating will be shifted from a bunch of businesses spread throughout the city to a handful of businesses located near the arena. No net benefit, yet they are selling it as a special benefit. Transferring tiny amounts of money from a bunch of restaurants to a few (them getting big money) is somehow a good thing?

  • Matt Welch Makes Me Sleepy ||

    "The extra $4M you got would still have gone somewhere. You just shifted it from one project to another. No extra benefit."

    I don't disagree with you, but it could have gone to a start-up in China, which doesn't benefit my community.

  • Matt Welch Makes Me Sleepy ||

    "The selling point was that it would revive the restaurant/bar business downtown"

    In the case of my project, no such claims are being made. We're just building a theater.

  • robc||

    You, China, makes no fucking difference to me. Except I wouldnt have had to fund, via the $5M, the chinese investment.

  • robc||

    no such claims are being made

    You made the same claim:

    That's money is going into the construction of the project followed by long-term jobs for artists, ticket brokers, venders, janitors, etc. and years of entertainment for the community at large.

    Shift from one business to another in my town vs shift from chinese artists/brokeers/venders/etc to ones in your town. Same argument, just different businesses.

  • Matt Welch Makes Me Sleepy ||

    "You, China, makes no fucking difference to me. Except I wouldnt have had to fund, via the $5M, the chinese investment."

    All true, but the point is that money does provide leverage, contrary to what Captain Somnolence wrote.

  • robc||

    This is, on a smaller scale, the same problem with the housing bubble. Government policy shifting capital from best use to less efficient use. Im not expecting a stadium bubble, but then again, when places with 15 year old stadiums start whining they need another one....

  • Matt Welch Makes Me Sleepy ||

    "Shift from one business to another in my town vs shift from chinese artists/brokeers/venders/etc to ones in your town. Same argument, just different businesses."

    That's akin to saying the pie in America isn't growing. True, at the monment it is kind of shrinking, but that's not the norm. I mean, given your rational, what's the use of starting a new business. I mean if I start making and selling candles, that's just gonna screw over some other candlemaker.

    It's a jungle out here. Dog eat dog.

  • ||

    In the case of my project, no such claims are being made. We're just building a theater.

    Using tax dollars, right?

    Fuck your pissy ass little theater that will put on shitty amateur productions that nobody cares enough about to make it financially viable.

    Fuck Paulson's grandiose scheme of a dollar sucking pit for pampered professional athelets and their stupid tribalistc fans.

    Now ask me how I feel about the government subsidized symphony hall.

  • ||

    Dear "Matt Welch Makes Me Sleepy":

    Please take your tin cup and shove it up your ass.

    Thx, have a nice day.

  • Jim||


    OTOH, Portland would make a great NHL city and you wouldn't need to build a new stadium.


    So lets see--it wouldn't require building a new stadium, would have 40 more dates a year where the Rose Garden gets used, which would benefit the restaurants, bars, hotels, etc? And it won't cost the taxpayers a cent?

    Nah...makes too much sense.

    What's really comical is that Portland has as much chance of getting a MLB team as they do getting an Australian Rules Football team. All of this financial outlay is so we can get a MLS soccer team here in the Rose City. And you know what a huge hit pro soccer is here in the US...

  • ||

    I want to know when the government will finally do something to improve the community? How about government subsidized nudie bars? Or would this from a free market perspective cause a lowering of standards. I don't want no fat chick nudie bars

  • ||

    The Hammer cashed out of Goldman Sachs (tax free) at the top; how much of his own cash is in this little boondoggle?

  • robc||

    That's akin to saying the pie in America isn't growing. True, at the monment it is kind of shrinking, but that's not the norm. I mean, given your rational, what's the use of starting a new business. I mean if I start making and selling candles, that's just gonna screw over some other candlemaker.

    WTF? That isnt even close to what Im saying. The growth overall of the economy isnt being discussed, we are taking a snapshot at one point in time and talking about using government money to make shift money from Business A to Business B. If the private sector does it, okay, thats life. But when the government starts choosing winners, problems start. Especially when everyone is a loser to pay for it.

  • ||

    C'mon DJF, I know you're a chubby chaser. You're telling me you've never been hogging?

  • Ted||

    MLS soccer is a huge hit in Seattle. They average 30,000 per game and Drew Carey from Reason is in the ownership group.

  • ||

    What this is, is the flip side of the externalities argument that the envirotards are always yammering on about.

    Essentially, what these owners are saying is that their sports stadium creates all kinds of positive externalities for the community, so the community should help pay for it.

    Anyone who thinks negative externalities created by private businesses should be taxed, must also believe that positive externalities created by private businesses should be be subsidized, no? How do you argue the one side without the other?

  • Michael||

    Having worked in the non-profit art sector for a number of years...

    You could have stopped at that statement. As someone that has busted ass at studying art and paid for my entire education out-of-pocket, I am justified in my unrelenting hatred of smarmy, self-important pissants that claim the need for state funding for their projects on the grounds of some ambiguously defined cultural benefit.


    P.S.: Theater people are the absolute fucking worst. If the art world was sports, you'd be the flag squad at a pep rally.

  • ||

    This whole thing is so mind-numbingly dumb that it is exactly the kind of thing I expect my hometown to do (hey, did you know we have a tram??*).

    As was pointed out this isn't even about MLB (which would be bad enough if it was, -- see the Nationals -- but at least that really is major league) this is about bringing MLS(!!) to Portland. MLS (or "Major League" Soccer -- I believe the scare quotes are actually part of their title now) is, well, "major league" in name only. What Paulson wants is public money to bring in another in the long string of minor professional sports franchises that have called Portland home before failing.** Many of those have played in the same stadium he wants public money to refurbish yet again. In fact, this very stadium was the subject of a public refurbishing barely 10 years ago to bring in... get this... minor league baseball. Yep, that's right, Portland spent public money to bring minor league baseball back to town because we all know what a boon a minor league baseball team is to the economy of a city the size of Portland (metropolitan area population 2.2 million).

    Oh and the beauty of this latest boondoggle is that the minor league baseball team (owned by Paulson) that was the reason for the previous public stadium refurbishing is being evicted for his soccer team, meaning they will now need a new stadium which will require, yep, even more public financing. The ongoing saga in Portland at this point is where to put the new minor league stadium: far out from downtown in an essentially residential neighborhood, or to tear down the old Memorial Coliseum (former home of the Trail Blazers) and put it there.

    And don't forget, all this is for a god-damned minor league team! It's almost too stupid to fathom. If a minor league team cannot be entirely privately financed, who the fuck cares? Let them go. Good riddance. This isn't the New York Yankess we're talking about for fuck's sake.

    When a major league owner threatens to leave, it's unfortunate he has such leverage to extort taxpayer money, but in this case, what leverage does Paulson have? He needs Portland a lot more than Portland needs him. The city should tell him to do it yourself of kindly fuck off (well ok, maybe in more civic terms, but...). What's he gonna do? Take the team to Salem? Come on. The MLS wants to be in Portland, it isn't going to let him have a team anywhere else. There is no reason to give him a dime.

    Whether all this is a "wag the dog" moment for Mayor Sam "I did not have sexual relations with that boy (at least before he was 18 that is)" Adams is another story (and personally, for the record, I don't care what he did).

    * From the tram wiki -- surprise! "The project suffered significant cost overruns during its construction. Construction cost was nearly four times the initial estimate, a development that nearly led to the tram's cancellation mid-construction. Operating costs are nearly twice original projections."

    ** There was an article a few months ago about all the failed minor sports that have come through town including the old WFL (twice) in the 70's, the USFL (remember them) in the 80's, the NASL, lacrosse, women's basketball (twice)...

  • ||

    """""C'mon DJF, I know you're a chubby chaser. You're telling me you've never been hogging?"""

    Of course not, but I don't want to have them nudie dancing on stage. Hogging is best done in dark bars at closing hour.

  • ||

    Or would this from a free market perspective cause a lowering of standards. I don't want no fat chick nudie bars

    Heh. Yep, just wait until the city imposes a non-discrimination on the basis of age, weight and sex clause.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Lamar, I thought the new arena was a done deal as of 2006. (I stopped reading the Slantinel).

  • ellipsis||

    They've already given a much bigger handout to the new soccer team. But it's so much more fun to bash baseball handouts.

    I'm more irate at the soccer handout, myself. Why spend several hundred million on a sport no-one wants to see?

  • ||

    I'm more irate at the soccer handout, myself. Why spend several hundred million on a sport no-one wants to see?

    Sure, but that's what's so maddening about the whole thing. Both sports, soccer and minor league baseball are niche sports that only a small number of people care about to begin with. If a city the size of Portland can't support either without public funding, then we don't need them. It's so absurd to be caving to a sports team owner with taxpayer handouts for such piddling level sports that I can scarcely believe it's even a consideration.

  • Mr. Chartreuse||

    I'm more irate at the soccer handout, myself. Why spend several hundred million on a sport no-one wants to see?

    Meh, some of us in the US do enjoy watching soccer, however I really can't support the tax payer stadium subsidization BS.

  • ellipsis||

    I don't support baseball handouts either, but baseball subsidies are a more visible whipping boy. Let's bash them all equally.

  • Ted||

    Before saying no one wants to see soccer I suggest looking at the actual statistics. The USA games in the last world cup got higher ratings than the nba finals. Beckham sold more jerseys last year than any nba, nfl or mlb player. Seattle averages 30,000 per game, the LA Galaxy draw over 25,000 per game when Beckham plays and Galaxy draw higher local ratings than the clippers and kings. Toronto sells out every game in their 20,000 seat stadium and they are talking of expanding the stadium. When Beckham played his first game in New York there were 66,000 in attendance.
    Portland will draw over 20,000 per game guaranteed. Soccer is way more popular than what many of you think.

  • ||

    I don't support baseball handouts either, but baseball subsidies are a more visible whipping boy. Let's bash them all equally.

    I agree, we should oppose all of them. I certainly didn't mean my rant to be particularly about the baseball team, it was meant to be about both. More so that both are minor league even if soccer calls itself major league (it is not the top players in the world by any stretch).

    I should say I also oppose paying major league owners subsidies as well, but in that case I can at least appreciate the pressure some cities find themselves in due to the limited, monopolized, number of pro spots franchises giving the owners a great deal of leverage to extort money from the city. If all cities would agree to simply tell them to go to hell, there would be no problem, but as long as there is a city somewhere desperate for a team that is willing to hand over the taxpayers cash, the owners will continue to take what they can get.

    Somewhat ironically (or maybe not) Portland has historically been one of those leverage cities owners could use to get better deals. Being the largest media market without more than one professional franchise it always comes up as a potential destination for an owner threatening to move. I imagine this trend will increase when, say the owner of the Oakland A's, points north and says "hey, if Portland's willing to pay for a minor league team, how much do you think they'll give me if I offer to bring major league baseball to town?"

    At any rate, my personal preference is for an NHL team. As noted by others above, the building already exists, the Blazers owner Paul Allen could write a personal check for any NHL franchise he wants (in fact he was very close to bringing the Penguins to Portland back when they went through their bankruptcy, among a few other franchises) and it would almost double the number of events the Rose Garden (which he owns as well).

  • Paul||

    This whole thing is so mind-numbingly dumb that it is exactly the kind of thing I expect my hometown to do (hey, did you know we have a tram??*).

    Yep, and it's had no effect on congestion.

  • Fluffy||

    All true, but the point is that money does provide leverage, contrary to what Captain Somnolence wrote.

    Um, news flash, a-hole: That's not the use of the word "leveraging" that Welch is taking about.

    Welch is talking about the perennial claim that money invested in sports stadia returns to the community via the money made off of events. This claim has been thoroughly debunked by study after study after study of the actual economic impact of new stadia.

    He wasn't talking about your leverage. The fact that getting a government handout makes it easier for you to beg for money elsewhere is not relevant to the discussion.

  • ||

    what leverage does Paulson have?

    Kinda answers itself, no?

  • Helper||

    Buying stadiums for rich people is unpopular, I'll tell you what. And never stops.

    I'm super mad and will write a letter this time.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement