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Even in Miami, politicians getting smart

Some realize stadium subsidies a scam

A decade ago, taxpayers paid three-fourths of the $650 million retractable-roof stadium.
A decade ago, taxpayers paid three-fourths of the $650 million retractable-roof stadium.

Increasingly, the media, politicians, and city leaders around the U.S. are understanding that taxpayer subsidies of pro stadiums are complete scams.

Marlin Justin Bour. Note empty seats.

Yesterday, the New York Times panned Marlins Park, the Miami stadium that will host the All-Star Game July 11. A decade ago, taxpayers paid three-fourths of the $650 million retractable-roof stadium. The Marlins argued that fans weren't turning out because of the rain and humidity. Even now with a roof, they are still not turning out; the team continues to stink. The total cost to taxpayers will be $2 billion over the life of the bonds.

The mayor of Miami-Dade County, Carlos Gimenez, was one of the few to oppose the subsidy when he was a county commissioner. Now, he notes that the team owner, Jeffrey Loria, wants to sell the team for $1.2 billion, eight times what he paid for the Marlins. Loria, if he can unload the team, will stick hundreds of millions of dollars in his pocket, thanks to Miami area taxpayers, says Gimenez.

Neil deMause of the online newsletter fieldofschemes.com is an ardent opponent of subsidies for billionaire team owners, but he doesn't think Loria will rake in his bundle because of the subsidy. The team apparently has $400 million in debt. So if you figure that Loria nets $800 million, he will make a profit of 11.41 percent per year. That's about what baseball owners make, according to Forbes numbers, and the former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers got a 21 percent windfall without getting a stadium.

Neil de Mause says Loria may have remained "obscenely wealthy" even without the subsidy. I question that, because new subsidized stadiums generally boost the value of a team. Hopefully, subsidy discussions will escalate around the time of the big game July 11.

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A decade ago, taxpayers paid three-fourths of the $650 million retractable-roof stadium.
A decade ago, taxpayers paid three-fourths of the $650 million retractable-roof stadium.

Increasingly, the media, politicians, and city leaders around the U.S. are understanding that taxpayer subsidies of pro stadiums are complete scams.

Marlin Justin Bour. Note empty seats.

Yesterday, the New York Times panned Marlins Park, the Miami stadium that will host the All-Star Game July 11. A decade ago, taxpayers paid three-fourths of the $650 million retractable-roof stadium. The Marlins argued that fans weren't turning out because of the rain and humidity. Even now with a roof, they are still not turning out; the team continues to stink. The total cost to taxpayers will be $2 billion over the life of the bonds.

The mayor of Miami-Dade County, Carlos Gimenez, was one of the few to oppose the subsidy when he was a county commissioner. Now, he notes that the team owner, Jeffrey Loria, wants to sell the team for $1.2 billion, eight times what he paid for the Marlins. Loria, if he can unload the team, will stick hundreds of millions of dollars in his pocket, thanks to Miami area taxpayers, says Gimenez.

Neil deMause of the online newsletter fieldofschemes.com is an ardent opponent of subsidies for billionaire team owners, but he doesn't think Loria will rake in his bundle because of the subsidy. The team apparently has $400 million in debt. So if you figure that Loria nets $800 million, he will make a profit of 11.41 percent per year. That's about what baseball owners make, according to Forbes numbers, and the former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers got a 21 percent windfall without getting a stadium.

Neil de Mause says Loria may have remained "obscenely wealthy" even without the subsidy. I question that, because new subsidized stadiums generally boost the value of a team. Hopefully, subsidy discussions will escalate around the time of the big game July 11.

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Comments
16

Look on the bright side, there's always good seats available, there's plenty of room the stretch your legs, and no lines at the restrooms. Maybe a few more of these "deals" around the league, and people will start to catch on to the professional sports boondoggles.

Besides, last time I checked you don't become a multimillionaire or billionaire by being a financial dumbass.

July 6, 2017

JustWondering: Yes, billionaires believe in OPM -- Other People's Money. In my view, these deals aren't boondoggles. They are scams. Best, Don Bauder

July 6, 2017

I heard this today Don, "Not my Circus, Not my Monkeys" recommended as a mantra.

July 6, 2017

shirleyberan: Watch the news each day. Plenty of monkeys around. Best, Don Bauder

July 6, 2017

problem is the monkeys seem to escape on a regular basis

July 7, 2017

Murphyjunk: You mean escape to Europe? Best, Don Bauder

July 7, 2017

or run for office

July 8, 2017

Murphyjunk: My worry is that the monkeys run for office and then go on a European jaunt to show off America's intelligence. Best, Don Bauder

July 8, 2017

Is/was Miami any more able to afford such foolishness than, say, San Diego? From what I know of Miami, as a colony of Cuban emigres, it is not an affluent city nor any sort of industrial powerhouse. It's just a big city of more-or-less struggling residents who have little to waste. Yet the power structure blew two thirds of a billion bucks on a ballpark that most of the residents cannot afford to use. Sound familiar? Start with SD and then move across the fruited plain, and you'll find many more such boondoggles.

July 6, 2017

Visduh: Of course, and it's still going on. Team owners are getting public money in Detroit of all places. I will repeat what I said to JustWondering; these billionaire subsidies are not boondoggles. They are scams. Best, Don Bauder

July 6, 2017

Never underestimate the stupidity of sports fans and voters.

July 7, 2017

AlexClarke: You would be surprised at the number of people (mostly men) whose entire lives revolve around the local pro sports teams. There are enough of these fools to make a powerful voting bloc. Best, Don Bauder

July 7, 2017

too many watchers, not enough players

July 7, 2017

Murphyjunk: Not enough GOOD players is the problem in Miami -- and with the ex-San Diego Chargers, too. Best, Don Bauder

July 7, 2017

According to Wikipedia:

"A boondoggle is a project that is considered a waste of both time and money, yet is often continued due to extraneous policy or political motivations."

Whereas,

"A scam or confidence trick is an attempt to defraud a person or group by gaining their confidence."

I would argue components of both Wikipedia definitions apply, but Boondoggle, with its "political motivations" applies more. Isn't always the politicians seeking adoration, who scheme, whether it was in Rome centuries ago, or the contemporary cities today, away the people's money on palatial colosseum or modern day ballparks.

July 7, 2017

JustWondering: Well, I think the stadium scam is a con game, but those who think it is a boondoggle are certainly welcome to their opinions. "Waste of both time and money" certainly applies to the billionaire stadium scam, but "confidence trick" applies, too. Example: Fabiani.

It's a coin flip. Best, Don Bauder

July 7, 2017

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