Senators introduce bill to prevent use of municipal funds to finance sports arenas

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Update: Rovell’s report left out a crucial part of the bill. From Cory Booker’s website:

The bill would close a loophole in the tax code that allows professional sports teams to finance new stadiums with municipal bonds that are exempt from federal taxes.

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The bill would end federal subsidies for stadium financing, but would not prevent localities and states from bidding and offering economic incentives to teams. In eliminating this wasteful expenditure, the bill also unties the hands of local governments to finance their stadium subsidies with taxes on tickets and in-stadium purchases—in other words, allowing states to target taxes on the people who actually use and benefit from the subsidy. Current tax law does not allow local governments to finance federal stadium subsidies by levying taxes on stadium purchases.

(Cap-tip to Royalsretro in the comments)

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ESPN’s Darren Rovell reports that Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and James Lankford (R-OK) will introduce a bill that will prevent the use of municipal funds to finance sports arenas.

In a public statement, Booker said:

Professional sports teams generate billions of dollars in revenue,” Booker said in a statement. “There’s no reason why we should give these multimillion-dollar businesses a federal tax break to build new stadiums. It’s not fair to finance these expensive projects on the backs of taxpayers, especially when wealthy teams end up reaping most of the benefits.

Rovell notes that the Yankees ($431 million) and Mets ($185 million) have received the largest amounts of money in federal subsidies according to a report from the Brookings Institute published last September.

A study by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, published in 2001, concluded, “The weight of economic evidence, however, shows that taxpayers spend a lot of money and ultimately don’t get much back. And when this paltry return is compared with other potential uses of the funds, the investment, almost always, seems unwise.”

The public financing of sports arenas is essentially corporate welfare. The owners receive free money, making the hazy promise of helping to boost the local economy by creating permanent jobs. That is almost never true, as many stadium jobs are temporary and seasonal. In other words, the jobs created pay little and provide little, if any, benefits like health insurance. While the owners pocket profits created by the stadium and by criminally underpaying employees, those employees then become dependent on the government to survive. Walmart, for example, has been taking advantage of this for years. According to Forbes, Walmart’s low pay causes their employees to cost U.S. taxpayers an aggregate $6.2 billion in public assistance despite Walmart taking in $132 billion for the year ending April 30, 2016. Stadium owners create the same situation for their employees and for taxpayers.

RHP Fairbanks, Rays agree to 3-year, $12 million contract

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Reliever Pete Fairbanks and the Tampa Bay Rays avoided arbitration when they agreed Friday to a three-year, $12 million contract that could be worth up to $24.6 million over four seasons.

The deal includes salaries of $3,666,666 this year and $3,666,667 in each of the next two seasons. The Rays have a $7 million option for 2026 with a $1 million buyout.

His 2024 and 2025 salaries could increase by $300,000 each based on games finished in the previous season: $150,000 each for 35 and 40.

Tampa Bay’s option price could increase by up to $6 million, including $4 million for appearances: $1 million each for 60 and 70 in 2025; $500,000 for 125 from 2023-25 and $1 million each for 135, 150 and 165 from 2023-25. The option price could increase by $2 million for games finished in 2025: $500,000 each for 25, 30, 35 and 40.

Fairbanks also has a $500,000 award bonus for winning the Hoffman/Rivera reliever of the year award and $200,000 for finishing second or third.

The 29-year-old right-hander is 11-10 with a 2.98 ERA and 15 saves in 111 appearances, with all but two of the outings coming out of the bullpen since being acquired by the Rays from the Texas Rangers in July 2019.

Fairbanks was 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 24 appearances last year after beginning the season on the 60-day injured list with a right lat strain.

Fairbanks made his 2022 debut on July 17 and tied for the team lead with eight saves despite being sidelined more than three months. In addition, he is 0-0 with a 3.60 ERA in 12 career postseason appearances, all with Tampa Bay.

He had asked for a raise from $714,400 to $1.9 million when proposed arbitration salaries were exchanged Jan. 13, and the Rays had offered for $1.5 million.

Fairbanks’ agreement was announced two days after left-hander Jeffrey Springs agreed to a $31 million, four-year contract with Tampa Bay that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

Tampa Bay remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.