NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Taxpayers Subsidize Both Rams And Titans

January 28, 2000

St. Louis Rams owner Georgia Frontiere moved her team from Los Angeles when that city refused to build her a new stadium. Bud Adams, owner of the Tennessee Titans, moved his team to Nashville from Houston when voters nixed efforts to build him a taxpayer-subsidized facility. Nashville's subsidies amounted to about $227 million and St. Louis forked over an estimated $720 million.

That means taxpayers have paid nearly a billion dollars to enjoy the Superbowl football game on Sunday.

Critics point out that the subsidy game doesn't end at the local level. The federal government also subsidizes sports franchises. Here are several of the ways that happens:

  • Tax breaks on local bonds floated to build sports stadiums cover one-sixth of their costs.
  • Deductions for business entertainment expenses cover 17 percent of the $300 price of luxury seats.
  • Then there is federal aid for fixing schools, providing police and improving neighborhoods for communities that ran low on resources after spending their money on sports palaces.

Over the past 15 years, communities have paid out about $5 billion in stadium and arena subsidies -- and they are slated to provide a similar amount over the next five years.

Source: Editorial, "Taxpayers Are the Losing Team," USA Today, January 28, 2000.


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