The Stadium Welfare Rip-Off


Today's New York Times features a big story on the massive burden taxpayers end up bearing thanks to publicly-subsidized stadiums:

It's the gift that keeps on taking. The old Giants Stadium, demolished to make way for New Meadowlands Stadium, still carries about $110 million in debt, or nearly $13 for every New Jersey resident, even though it is now a parking lot….

How municipalities acquire so much debt on buildings that have been torn down or are underused illustrates the excesses of publicly financed stadiums and the almost mystical sway professional sports teams have over politicians, voters and fans.

Rather than confront teams, they have often buckled when owners — usually threatening to move — have demanded that the public pay for new suites, parking or arenas and stadiums.

With state and local budgets stretched by the recession, politicians are only now starting to look askance at privately held teams trying to tap the public till.

Read the whole depressing story here. Click below for's reporting on stadium welfare in Washington, DC and Brooklyn, NY.

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  1. Pure corruption. Why on earth did New York New Jersey pay a dime for these stadiums? Like the NFL is going to abandon its largest market (especially after it already gave up LA in a stadium dispute). Tell Roger Gadell to go fuck himself. Good luck moving both the Giants and the Jets to other cities.

  2. And the “journalists” who make their living licking the balls of professional sports team owners and players gush like little girls at a Mylie Cyrus concert about how totally aaaawesome those new stadia are.

    1. There are no “sports journalists” anymore. What used to be sports journalism is now owned by the cable networks all of whom are in business with the sports leagues. Why on earth would Fox or the four letter network ever report truthfully about the NBA or NFL or MLB when they are in business with them?

      1. the almost mystical sway professional sports teams have over politicians, voters and fans

        Look at all the adulation heaped upon the Saints, how they’ve “given their city hope” and “dignity” and assorted other heaps of booster bullshit. And yes, sports businesses like ESPN and all the others have a vested interest in seeing this happen. It’s despicable.

  3. I can’t wait for the lockout next year. Fucking NFL.

    1. Me either. And a lockout because the owners want an 18 game season neither the players or fans want and want the players to pay the cost of these stadiums that the taxpayers haven’t already paid. Rarely do I take the Union’s side in anything. But this is an exception. The owners are scum.

      1. The owners are scum.

        See: Norman Bramen

        Not that I’m a big fan of unions, either, but he had the nerve to complain when he thought the Philadelphia Police didn’t provide enough protection during the scab games. I guess he forgot that the Police are union. Nah, he was just being a dick, and trying to rub their noses in it.

        The best thing Norman Bramen ever did for the Philadelphia Eagles was hire Buddy Ryan

        – Buddy Ryan

        Bramen added obstructed view seating, that no one wanted to buy (and didn’t), so the games wouldn’t sell out, and the network would have to step in and buy the tickets.

        He raised ticket prices almost every year, saying he wasn’t making any money. Then, it came out in court that he was drawing a $7.5 million salary, plus he was turning a profit.

        He fired Buddy Ryan, the lowest paid coach in the league, to hire Rich Kotite, who he paid even less.

        I could go on for days.

        But then, conversely, there’s owners like Art Rooney.

        1. I see your Norman Bramen and raise you a Ralph Wilson.

      2. 18 game season neither the players or fans want

        Speak for yourself. How can a fan not want another 2 games? I can see how you could not want more baseball or basketball games, but football isn’t anywhere near the fatigue level.

    2. Don’t forget about us!

    3. I’d say the same if I was a Browns fan…

  4. Several years ago, the Dallas mayor (whose name escapes me) stood up to the Cowboys and refused to sweeten a deal to build their new stadium in Dallas at the site of the Cotton Bowl. God bless her.

    If memory serves, she offered a 50/50 split of the construction expenses (still too much, of course). When Jerry Jones said he wanted the city to pick up 70%, she said no.

    There was surprisingly little gnashing of teeth and rending of garments. Even in Dallas. For the Cowboys. Of course, they weren’t leaving town, just going down the road a little. But still.

    1. That is because they knew there was no way the NFL would ever allow the Cowboys to move. For once Cowboy fans’ noxious arrogance paid off.

    2. I refer to the new Cowboys’ stadium as The Arlington Taxpayers’ House since they paid the majority of the building costs.

      1. That thing looks like a crashed alien spaceship or something. It’s surreal to see it from a few miles away across those flat planes.

        1. Plains, not planes. Planes are not quite planar.

            1. They call it the Death Star. Fitting.

    3. Her name was Laura Miller and you should hear how people talk about her now, you would think she was the devil for not putting the taxpayers on the hook for a $1 Billion stadium.

      And Jerry Jones is a pompus asshat who is now intent on completely destroying sports in Dallas, starting with moving the Cottonbowl Classic from the Cottonbowl.

    4. Jerry Jones lives in a very fancy neighborhood near downtown. Across the street some wacko put up a massive undulating Hobbit mansion with a copper roof. Word has it he showed up at their front door offering millions to tear the fucking thing down.

      1. Here’s the link to the godawful thing.

        1. Rich Texans are some of the tackiest people on earth. If this ass clown has to live near someone, I am glad it is uber ass clown Jerry Jones.

          1. In high school, I would walk the dog a long way from home because I didn’t like home much, and occasionally passed that house. Was pretty difficult to convince myself to bag his shit next to that giant turd.

      2. THat Hobbit house looks 100x better than the shitty Italianate McMansions in Great Falls, VA.

  5. Fucking christ.

    You’d better be doing it for free, or you’ll get in trouble.

    1. I may pay for handsome companion Jesuses, but I’m only paying them to hang around my pool in their speedos. If we just happen to take a liking to each other and christfucking happens, then that’s just a happy coincidence.

      1. I guess you go for the Latins.

  6. “We are facing different economic realities than we have in prior years,” said Greg Aiello, an N.F.L. spokesman, adding, “For the most part, these new realities reflect a significant increase in costs, including the cost of building, maintaining and operating stadiums.”

    Yet the stadiums keep on coming, like the new marvel in the Meadowlands. It can switch from Giants blue to Jets green with the push of a button ? and will do exactly that for the opening week, when the Giants host Carolina next Sunday and the Jets welcome Baltimore a night later.

    George Vecsey

    the cost of building, maintaining and operating stadiums is a burden on the teams? Any normal, halfway intelligent person would have laughed out loud at that.

  7. Yeah this is such a pain. Oklahoma City did this to seal the deal with the Seattle Sonics a few years back. While they didn’t “raise” taxes, they chose to keep a tax that was expiring and use it to pay for the stadium construction.

    It boggles my mind that the billion dollar sports franchises can’t pay for their own stadiums.

    But I guess the thought of tourism dollars is far to great for politicians to think rationally.

  8. Connecticut hung tough on this issue. As a result, they lost their only pro team and the city has hit the skids. I’m not saying losing the NHL was the only reason, but pro sports has a cache that can’t be denied and is worth the investment.

    1. Actually, had you kept your team, the city would still have hit the skids, but local governments would be in more debt.

    2. This may be true in a one-sport town (Sacramento, OKC, Jacksonville) but cities like Dallas, Chicago, and NYC should be a little more secure in their citihood.

    3. Where are your numbers, then? Tell me, in dollars and cents, how it is worth it. Hard numbers, not “it brings a feeling of good will” or fucking “cach?”.

      1. In Buffalo the presence of sports teams adds to the alcoholism and sense of futility in life.

  9. pro sports has a cache that can’t be denied and is worth the investment.

    Get your fucking checkbook out, dipshit. Keep your hand out of your neighbors’ pockets.

  10. Word has it he showed up at their front door offering millions to tear the fucking thing down.

  11. 2nd attempt:

    Word has it he showed up at their front door offering millions to tear the fucking thing down.

    The guy should have gouged out Jones’ eyes with a garden tool; problem solved.

    1. post-facelift Jerry does bear an uncanny resemblance to Gollum.

  12. My recollection of the details is hazy and I don’t have time to Google them, but the story of the building of Heinz Field and PNC Park in Pittsburgh went something like this:

    1. Teams want new stadia built with taxpayer dollars.
    2. Voters reject referenda that would fund building them.
    3. Tom Murphy (corrupt former Pittsburgh mayor) and Tom Ridge (corrupt former PA governor) figure out some sort of illegal backroom arrangement that bypasses the will of the voters.
    4. Stadia get built with taxpayer dollars.
    5. Pittsburgh goes bankrupt.

    1. I lived there at the time. You’ve got it pretty much correct.

  13. Seattle is still on the hook to the tune of $80 million for the demolished King Dome. To celebrate, Seattle built TWO arenas to replace it.

    1. Houston is still in debt for the Astrodome, which has been declared too dangerous for humans to enter.

      1. And the Harris County Sports Authority, which financed the other three new stadiums (Minute Maid, the Toyota Center, and Reliant Stadium) just announced their construction and financing bonds got downgraded to junk status. Looks like the county will be on the hook for those places too.

  14. Rich Texans are some of the tackiest people on earth.

    No doubt, but Jerry Jones is from Arkansas.

    1. I wasn’t talking about him. I was talking about the guy who built the hobbit house.

  15. This wouldn’t be an issue if had Separation of Business and State in the constitution.

  16. I propose a new class-action lawsuit. All the local governments which have paid for sports stadiums ought to be able to get the NFL (and any other league that has labor disputes in the future) to either play the games, or pay the stadium owners their lost revenue.

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