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The Super Bowl Scam - How the NFL Gets Taxpayers to Pay for Stadiums

March 14, 2013

This year the Miami Dolphins are trying to pass legislation that will give them $3 million a year from the state for the next 30 years, and also allow them to increase taxes in Miami-Dade County generating another $10 million a year.  Why do they need all of this taxpayer cash?  They want to spend $400 million to renovate Sun Life Stadium where they play so that, according to them, they will have a better chance of securing the 50th Super Bowl game.

The last time the Dolphins hosted the Super Bowl was in 2007, right after they spent $250 million upgrading the stadium.  Two years later, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said that the stadium would need more upgrades if they wanted to “remain competitive in bidding for future Super Bowls.”  Goodell specifically cited a lack of lighting and lower-level seats as needed improvements.  Mr. Goodell’s comments are what has prompted a push for a renovation of Sun Life Stadium and the supporters saying that without these renovations Miami won’t be able to attract future bowl games.

But the joke is on us because Mr. Goodell has made a habit of going around the country and telling local officials that the only way they will have a chance at a Super Bowl in the future is if they make major renovations to their stadiums, and use taxpayer dollars to subsidize the costs.

In July 2012, Mr. Goodell was rumored to have had a closed door meeting with legislators in Minnesota, promising them that if they supported taxpayer-funded renovations to the Vikings’ stadium they would get a Super Bowl.

In October 2012, Mr. Goodell told community leaders in Houston that their stadium will need some upgrades if they want to host another Super Bowl. They are considered finalists for Super Bowl 51 in 2017.

In November 2012, Mr. Goodell told Atlanta that if they wanted to compete for a Super Bowl they would need a new stadium. He also made clear his preference for an open-air stadium, saying “The game is meant to be played in the elements.”

It should be no surprise that just this month, Goodell said that South Florida can forget hosting any more Super Bowls if the renovations being proposed for Sun Life Stadium don’t happen. Dolphins owner Steve Ross implied that the renovations won’t happen if the taxpayers won’t anty-up at least half of the funds, continuing to insist that using tax dollars for stadium renovations is a good deal for the taxpayers – despite scores of economists that say it isn’t.

Mr. Goodell also has a habit of contradicting himself as he speaks to Super Bowl hopefuls, telling some that they need to have a cover on their stadium to protect from rain or snow, while telling others that football is meant to be played in the elements and he prefers an open-air arena.

The scam’s cost keeps growing too. In 2011 the cost estimated to renovate Sun Life Stadium was only $225 million, but today it’s almost $400 million. Costs nearly doubled in 2 years.

Now the details are starting to come out about the additional money the NFL will require South Florida to contribute to the game — $21 million!  This is in addition to the tax breaks, taxpayer-funded incentives and tax increases.

Elected officials in Santa Clara, California, aren’t so sure that the Super Bowl is worth all that the NFL demands for it.  They are the frontrunners for Super Bowl 50. However, they have realized that the NFL’s demands for tax breaks and city funds makes having the Super Bowl far less of a deal than the NFL wants them to think it is. They aren’t even sure they can make money off hosting the game after they fulfill all of the NFL’s demands.

When asked whether this plan was “welfare for billionaires” Dolphin’s CEO Mike Dee responded, “Just because somebody is wealthy enough doesn’t mean he should invest money in a way that is unwise.”

So spending millions of dollars to renovate Sun Life stadium is an unwise financial investment for the Dolphins’ owner, but it supposed to be a good investment for the taxpayers?

So the real question is – will Florida’s elected officials fall for this scam and hand over millions of taxpayer dollars to a billionaire?

Email your elected officials now – tell them to stop wasting your tax dollars and end corporate welfare for professional sports teams!

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