Why do taxpayers pay billions for football stadiums?

Why do taxpayers pay billions for football stadiums?

Cities want football teams. Owners want stadiums.

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In the past 20 years, over $7 billion in public money has gone towards financing the construction and renovation of NFL football stadiums. Owners argue that public investment in private football franchises will bring a boom of economic activity to local economies. But this argument doesn’t hold up. In reality, stadiums and their upkeep wind up costing cities millions of dollars.

For owners, new stadiums mean more profits. They get to host the Super Bowl, sell naming rights to other corporations, and build increasingly opulent and expensive premium seating.

For cities, nabbing an itinerant football franchise looking for a new home field can be a big political win. And residents want teams and the hometown pride that comes with it. Football teams give cities a sense of identity and they are paying more than ever for them.

New stadiums aren’t the economic powerhouses owners promise they’ll be. But as long there are more cities that want a home team than there are franchises, it looks like taxpayers are going to keep footing the bill.

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83 Responses

  1. Frank Dank says:

    No taxpayers should pay for a stadium NFL should supply that Money period.

  2. issa osama says:

    I love sports but not enough to contribute towards a stadium that won’t contribute towards society. Tax should be going towards health care,safety,education or even supporting public sports “meaning Olympic teams and world sport representatives”

    • issa osama says:

      izzyDbuzzin I think your comment wasn’t worded right so we didn’t understand your point. That’s all

    • Austin McMahon says:

      issa osama Please explain to me why you would support tax payer dollars subsidizing the Olympics, but find it inappropriate for tax payer dollars to support local sports teams. Moreover, my post presupposes that tax payers directly fund the construction and maintenance of football stadiums. I am uncertain whether tax funds do such, or do not. Nonetheless, we know tax payer money goes to funding the Olympics — this is incontrovertible. Why are you okay with funding the olympics with public dollars but not a local sports team? Any one else who would like to provide insight, feel free to do so.

    • Galvatron says:

      issa osama I agree and strongly agree at that. That tax money could be going to healthcare, infrastructure, and other necessities of modern living. The wealthy always mastermind ways to make us pay for their luxury lifestyles.

    • Michael Echeverria says:

      +issa osama Agreed.

  3. Younes ZH says:

    what a waste

  4. Asfakul Islam says:

    Because tax payers have no say where the money would be spent

    • Jorge Acosta says:

      Asfakul Islam that’s not entirely correct. I’m not sure if you watch soccer, but in Miami there is an ownership group trying to get a stadium built, and this has been delayed for years because the people that live in the city the stadium will be built in have been protesting. Even though the ownership group was awarded a team, the mayor has made it clear that the stadium site is not said and done. The locals have continued to protest, and it’s understandable why. This is not the first time locals have prevented a sports stadium from getting built.

    • bongo155 says:

      They showed you the stats that a city like Cleveland support building new stadiums.

  5. Salokin says:

    “Loved ones”
    *Shows pile of snacks*
    Seems legit

  6. FAST EDDIE says:

    Sweetheart deals, tax exempt status subterfuge, political pandering, Goodell making $30m/year, Paul Allen (one of the richest people in the world) paying $1m/year in rent in return for full revenue to the tune of $200m/year. Taxpayers continuing to pay for long demolished stadiums. It’s a scam that benefits obscenely rich individuals and is no less than extortion of public funds!

    • Jarrar khan says:

      What about Paul Bateman

    • Michael Echeverria says:

      +FAST EDDIE Agreed, the rich benefit the most off these stadiums being built.

    • RLang03 says:

      Jesus Christ, the NFL is tax exempt BECAUSE ITS A FLOW THROUGH ENTITY.  That means the 32 NFL teams pay the general income taxes, not the NFL.  The NFL doesn’t make profit/loss for itself, it distributes it to the 32 teams.  They’re just a collection and holding vehicle for the teams to collect the general revenue from league revenue sources.

    • A. W. says:

      rockcabbage that’s not how it works. Stop pushing your views into everything. If we were taxed less, they would still get their stadiums, but we wouldn’t have schools or roads or anything of value to the general public.

    • Greedy D says:

      FAST EDDIE but remember Trump was wrong when he said it

  7. William Pratt says:

    Finally a Vox video I can 100% agree with, as a Minnesotan who really didn’t like it when they built the second stadium in Minneapolis. At least the majority of the funding came from gambling – football and gambling go hand in hand in my mind, so it seems they payed for it themselves.

    • Mallory Brangan says:

      I’m glad you liked the video. The new taxes cities create – like the gambling tax in MN or the hotel/restaurant/car rental taxes in Las Vegas are still diverting public money away from public works and investment and handing it to large private industries.

    • offchance says:

      Get corporate donations out of politics, the NFL buys city delegates for cheap only for tens of thousands.

    • Captain Flippers says:

      Yea because it totally wouldn’t have been more expensive to have repaired that collapsed roof.

  8. Shoulders of Giants says:

    This is a scam.
    The people who run these stadiums make enough money already.
    They just want MORE MORE MORE for themselves.

  9. no privacy says:

    We need to stop paying protection money for the guys who say “Nice city you got here. It would be a shame if you lost your team”.

    Those player come and go. They have loyalty to the highest bidder.

    In Australia I saw small sports fields all over the place. That makes sense, small places where local people cam keep active and healthy.

    • Allie Doak says:

      Yea I mean and what really creates more pride for the average person. Some big league team winning a game or you know school kids and local members of the community playing their best and/or winning games? The later creates real community where as the later just creates a fandom, and fandoms are essentially just very keen consumers. Where as the high school football team or whatever requires community involvement to facilitate. Building a place where regular people can play sports will always be a better investment in that. I see it in my town the community pride and unity happens at the sports fields we built a couple of decades ago. We built a small stadium more recently, which in our case was a good investment as it a) belongs to the community and is used for a lot of different events and b) does bring in money because it allows us to host events that people from elsewhere want to travel to and stops locals from traveling to see those things but it’s for economic development not community development primarily.

    • Roxor128 says:

      We had our own version of this nonsense in New South Wales recently. The state premier got a petition complaining about plans to demolish and spend $2 billion on replacing a footy stadium in Sydney that was already perfectly fine for the job. I think the state government might have backed down in response. The comments on the petition from those who signed it tended to fall into three categories: accusations of corruption, “spend it on healthcare and education instead” and “build lots of small sports facilities in regional areas instead”.

  10. Kenneth Bynum III says:

    Football is a complete and utter waste of time

    • King Zak says:

      Kenneth Bynum III baseball and NASCAR, are a bigger waste. Baseball stadiums are empty. And what kind of idiot watches a car go in circles

    • queen bee says:

      King Zak the kind of idiot who likes to spend their money on a good time. Let’s be honest, do you really want to spend your leisure time on libraries and art galleries so that you can brag about how much of an “intellectual” you are?

    • King Zak says:

      queen bee I guess baseball is ok, but where I’m from if you say you watch nascar everyone will think you’re retarted

  11. Silverboww says:

    Simple answer: football is obviously more important than health care *duh*

    • DIOOOUUU says:

      The joke went over all of you

    • Griffin Kelley says:

      Complimenting This argument makes no sense, are you saying we take the money the football players earn and give it to the people who make less. This sounds very communist to me. Also, I’d are criterion for how we pay people was forwarding society, we’d pay almost nobody. Unemployment would be near 80%. Then nobody gets payed.

    • Complimenting says:

      Griffin Kelley tax money is used to benefit society as a whole. Football clearly does not do that. If people want to pay for this entertainment, that’s fine. But don’t use taxpayer money.

    • Name Eman says:

      Paul Trumptards: Pay for a new stadium mayor!!!!!
      Also Trumptards: Healthcare is not an entitelment

    • dane mathews says:

      Lol spends 3 trillion on health care just to have it be one of the worst systems in any developed country

  12. Vox says:

    Watch how rule changes in the NFL made modern linemen gigantic: http://bit.ly/2BSOf5n

  13. James Burgess says:

    They built that new stadium to replace the Georgia Dome, just be in the race to get a bid to host a super bowl.
    And the super bowl tourism is a big driving force, to persuade cities that they will “see a return”. But usually they will most likely only get to host ONE super bowl, which definitely won’t make up for the lost for money.
    And the Georgia dome was a fine stadium, it just wasn’t one of those “new era stadiums” that the NFL is pushing owners to make if they want to host. Considering that Atlanta fans aren’t the strongest/diehard in any sport, this will be a bad investment for the city. It should be mandatory that the franchise uses the tax money as a loan, which must be paid back *directly*, instead of a hand out to a team owned by a billionaire.

    • Kang Kim says:

      Demonta Barrino that $1.6 billion must have come from somewhere first right? They took that money from education, social services, and police. That hotel money will take decades to claw back.

    • Sean Dafny says:

      this isnt about race gosh

    • MrAtlfan21 says:

      Yeah there was nothing wrong with the Georgia Dome

    • Isaiah Ware says:

      Coming from a born and raised Atlanta resident, the Georgia Dome was fine as it was. But, only about 300 million was funded from the Hotel/Motel tax so technically tourist paid for it. Plus the costs ballooned to about 1.5 billion for the stadium instead of the predicted 1 billion. That extra 500 million had to come from the owner and not the city of Atlanta.

  14. James Burgess says:

    John Oliver made an amazing video on this topic as well.
    Definitely check it out if you’re wondering how these teams get away with stuff like this.

    • Ivan Escalante says:

      James Burgess I saw it on John Oliver.

    • Mario says:

      This sports stadium problem is similar to the WalMart problem. They go into a city and wow the local government bumpkins with revenue charts and potential employment figures and basically say, you either pay for it and give us 0 taxes or we go somewhere else.

      Most city governments cave in fearing economic ruin or being left out. But the better option is to diversify your city and try to attract people and revenue from multiple sources. Its like building a stock portfolio, but you invest in tourism, manufacturing, agriculture, small businesses, tech and education. Theres more to life than sports.

    • ruwiki says:

      San Diego, second largest city. San Diego, second best fans

    • Greedy D says:

      James Burgess but the liberals said Trump was wrong when he said the same thing

  15. Dias Amreé says:

    R.I.P. headphone users

  16. Eric [][][] says:

    The short answer is politicians get bribed to use public money for these stadiums. It ain’t rocket science.

    • maninredhelm says:

      It’s not bribes. These are extremely public construction projects, all the voters know what’s going on. The problem is that many voters will in fact take it out on the politicians if the sports team leaves, so the politicians have to walk a tightrope between the passionate voters who are willing to pay for the team, and the more dispassionate voters who are against spending public money on projects like this but can possibly be convinced that it will provide a net economic benefit to the city.

    • jwuw74 says:

      i wouldn’t say *all* the voters know what’s going on, but most do and having worked in relevant new jersey municipal councils during the moving of the giants stadium i’d say that mostly this happens because of public pressure combined with whatever influence the franchise and nfl can come up with. kneejerk “they’re all corrupt” reactions like eric’s are comical. dude thinks just because he didn’t know about it or have any influence on it that these aren’t incredibly transparent public processes that are never instigated by politicians and are widely approved of by the affected populaces themselves.

    • cjp21211 says:

      AllisterH you’re right. it’s the teams looking for profit. they will move where there is to be most profit

    • Avantime says:

      Stadiums are prestige projects for politicians, similar to hosting the Olympics. Unlike the Olympics these stadiums doesn’t get any international exposure, but they’re more enduring than Olympic sports arenas, most of which are soon abandoned after the games.

  17. Seven PurpleMcCoin says:

    Massachusetts taxpayers still getting ridiculous returns on that stadium investment…..just too bad we didn’t chip in some extra money for another road/lane to get to the stadium

    • Roy Monoki says:

      +Seven PurpleMcCoin prove it

    • maninredhelm says:

      +Roy Monoki Well, Massachusetts taxpayers paid $0 for the stadium, and $15 million for improvements to public roadways outside the stadium that benefit the rest of the area as well. While I can’t find the precise number the New England Patriots paid the state in tax revenue due to them being a private corporation, we know that by league rules they pay their players about $150 million per year. The players in turn would pay approximately $7.5 million in taxes to Massachusetts per year, so they alone would cover the road improvements in 2 years, not counting the likely much larger number the team itself pays, or the other employees, or the other local economic benefits. Massachusetts is a bad example though, Vox only included the Patriots in their data to fluff up their numbers. It’s the states that pay for the entire stadium that fall way behind on the returns.

    • bongo155 says:

      What, 8 games a year plus maybe a coupe of play-off games. How can you get “returns” on an investment that is so rarely used.

  18. LA Fresh Life says:

    just going to leave these three letters here: C T E

  19. Jerrod Dill says:

    A. People are not very smart and they think “Well, OBVIOUSLY a stadium will bring money”, and B. The decision is never really put up for direct democratic approval. The team owners also do the same thing that corporations do, and demand protection money or else they move to another city. Don’t build what they want, they’ll jump ship for the city that will. The team knows people will scream about losing “their team” and getting stuck with an empty stadium.

  20. Fjord Frost says:

    This happens in pretty much every major sport in the US.

    Im not saying that exonerates the NFL though; it doesnt.

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