Bob McPhail 12:30 p.m., April 26
Sportin' life: how billionaire owners make out
Billionaire-dominated NFL owners have raked in $18.6 billion of taxpayer funds
Bloomberg News has an excellent story today (Dec. 20) noting that since 1992, taxpayers have committed $18.6 billion to National Football League owners in the cost of building stadiums, foregone real estate taxes and the like. There are 32 teams in the NFL. Eighteen of the teams are owned by billionaires, notes Bloomberg.
The story focuses greatly on Oakland, which faced a $32 million budget deficit last year, so it laid off one-fourth of its police force. This year, murders in Oakland are up 16%, rapes 24%, and burglaries 43%. But the city will not touch the $17.3 million that it pays to stage Raiders football and Athletics baseball games in O.co Coliseum. Another $13.3 million comes from surrounding Alameda County. Now, of course, Oakland is under pressure from sports leagues to replace the stadium. The Raiders are threatening to leave (they departed once and came back); the team's departure would leave Oakland $145 million in debt. The Bloomberg story deals with other metro areas that have been fleeced such as Jacksonville and Hamilton County, Ohio (Cincinnati).
The story gives figures from a new study by Harvard's Judith Grant Long, whom I wrote about in my December 5 column. Long found that taxpayers plunk in 78% of pro sports stadium costs -- higher than the two-thirds normally assumed. A reader asked me the figure for the NFL and I didn't get back to him. According to Long, taxpayers pick up the tab for 87% of football stadiums, highest among the pro sports.