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The Most Idiotic Idea in America Is Getting Worse … and No One Seems Ready to Change It

Here’s an oversimplified but basically accurate sales pitch for publicly funded stadiums: you (the taxpayer) give millions of dollars in tax incentives to pay for a stadium, but instead of having any ownership of this asset or ability to make money on the profits it will surely generate, you agree to put those profits into the hands of a small number of super rich sports team owners. Forever. And then you do it again and again and again across the country.

Welcome to the most idiotic idea in America. Every argument about the public benefit of stadiums has been widely debunked. They don’t drive local jobs in the community. They don’t generate tourism dollars. They don’t increase local property values. Instead they “mostly just transfer wealth from taxpayers to the owners of sports franchises.” Nine years ago, news comedian John Oliver made many of the same arguments against publicly funded stadiums on his show. That was 2015 and since then nothing has changed.

So why does this sucker’s deal keep getting made? The biggest reason is that most city councils and local communities are deathly afraid to call the bluff from billionaire sports franchise owners who threaten to move their teams if they don’t get a new stadium. Maybe some of them aren’t actually bluffing. And this fear of having a team leave keeps local government officials and the public from demanding what seems like the simplest compromise of all:  approve the incentives, pay for the stadium, and as part of the deal, demand a fair share of the profits in perpetuity after the stadium is built. Why is no city or township doing this? If you have any insights, please share!

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