June 29, 2006

Public Funding for Sports Stadiums Is Ridiculous

There are countless examples of professional sports teams who, in an effort to develop new playing facilities for their franchises, have turned to the public for funding, through additional taxes. The suggestion is that improved facilities deliver increased revenues and additional business to the surrounding areas, therefore offering the potential to invigorate an entire community's economy.

Yet if one examines the underlying issues, it simply doesn't hold water. The fans who would vote in favor of public funding are the very folks who would be asked to pay the resulting increase in ticket prices that is inevitable, and the owners themselves would be raking in the profits from expanded turnstiles. Yet, not even that level of support can guarantee loyalty. Though funded publicly, the owners are under no obligation to put a good team on the field or on the court, to spend a minimum amount on salaries, and they are not required to keep a team in a city, but have the opportunity to uproot the franchise if they think they've found a better deal.

Locally, the San Francisco Giants repeatedly set up ballot initiatives to gain public financial support, and continually failed. Instead, the team's owners turned to private funding, and with a little help from sponsors and naming rights, AT&T (nee PacBell and SBC) Park was developed.

Now, we see the Sacramento Kings trying the same thing - begging for a quarter-cent sales tax to be inflicted on the public to gain them a replacement for Arco Arena, even though only 27% of those asked in a survey thought the team needed a new court as it is. This evening, according to the Sacramento Bee, KCRA and others, talks with city and county governments have stalled, and it will be at least another two years before they can put the proposed measure in front of voters again. I for one think it's time the billionaire owners took a serious risk and found the good business sense to invest in the community themselves.

Listening to ''Microclimate'', by Stereolab (Play Count: 4)

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