As I prepare to watch the game, I thought a reminder of just how much of the NFL owes its existence to taxpayer money was in order. This isn't a long diary, but a reminder:
Let's start with football stadiums
1. 71% of the cost of NFL stadiums is paid for by the taxpayers. As the Atlantic noted regarding Cincinnati : "Pro-sports subsidies exceeded the $23.6 million that the county cut from health-and-human-services spending in the current two-year budget (and represent a sizable chunk of the $119 million cut from Hamilton County schools)."
2. A number of NFL team's stadium deals are so good they are guaranteed a profit before the kick-off.
3. The Seahawks are owned by Billionaire Paul Allen. You can't beat the deal he got:
CenturyLink Field, where the Seattle Seahawks play, opened in 2002, with Washington State taxpayers providing $390 million of the $560 million construction cost. The Seahawks, owned by Paul Allen, one of the richest people in the world, pay the state about $1 million annually in rent in return for most of the revenue from ticket sales, concessions, parking, and broadcasting (all told, perhaps $200 million a year).4. The field the game is going to be played at was supposed to be built completely by private money. Ah, but one article noted:
Super Bowl XLVIII is on track to cost New Jersey residents big. The state might not have given direct tax breaks for the stadium, but it did donate valuable land for the construction of training facilities for the Giants and Jets and allocated $250 million for related construction costs. And while the NFL claims that the Super Bowl will bring $550 million to the region, economists warn it's "dubious math." That's not to mention the $17.7 million and counting costs to taxpayers, as the transit authority adds more trains, security and a fleet of garbage collectors.The NFL is a not-for profit corporation, whose President makes $29 million a year.
As the Atlantic notes:
That’s right—extremely profitable and one of the most subsidized organizations in American history, the NFL also enjoys tax-exempt status. On paper, it is the Nonprofit Football League.Some charity!
This situation came into being in the 1960s, when Congress granted antitrust waivers to what were then the National Football League and the American Football League, allowing them to merge, conduct a common draft, and jointly auction television rights. The merger was good for the sport, stabilizing pro football while ensuring quality of competition. But Congress gave away the store to the NFL while getting almost nothing for the public in return.
Corporate purchases of tickets are tax free
About 25% of tickets at the Super Bowl will go to "Corporate Sponsors". Remember, the people attending the game on those tickets aren't paying a dime, and the cost of those tickets is being deducted as a business expense by the corporation themselves. Many of the 1% will fly their corporate jet for free and go to the game for free using corporate assets whose use is a business deduction.
So while you enjoy the game today, and I will be watching, take a moment to remind yourself just how much of that game was brought to you by the taxpayers AKA you!