There are multiple bills working their way through the Florida legislature this year that all aim to secure taxpayer money to renovate professional sports facilities.
The front runner is SB 306/HB 165 which aims to give the Miami Dolphins $3 million a year from state general revenue funds for the next 30 years, in addition to the $2 million a year they already receive, and also allow Miami-Dade voters to increase the county hotel tax giving the team another $7.5-$10 million a year in tax dollars for 26 years.
The Jacksonville Jaguars also want a raise – they currently receive $2 million a year from state taxpayers but want that increased to $4 million. Orlando wants pro-soccer teams to be able to qualify for $2 million a year and the Daytona 500 wants in on the deal too. There’s also an effort to increase the subsidies given to facilities for spring training.
The proponents of these bills insist that stadiums are economic engines for communities and that they are wise investments for taxpayers. However, economists from around the country disagree with the pro-sports teams claims, noting that these projects end up being funded almost entirely by taxpayers, provide little to no economic benefit for communities, and that the big games teams use to coerce public funds don’t return anywhere near the amount the public ends up spending.
Here’s what independent analyses have shown on the true economics of the public subsidizing professional sports facilities:
The National Football League (NFL) uses the promise of an economic windfall to convince skeptical cities that public investment in new stadiums for their teams in exchange for the right to host the event makes economic sense. In fact the recent average public contribution for a new or renovated NFL stadium, $209 million, is less than the size of the economic impact estimates.
So we have to ask – is giving handouts to professional sports teams a responsible use of tax dollars or is this money better spent somewhere else? The answer seems clear. Our elected officials need to stand up for the taxpayers and stop giving out taxpayer-funded corporate welfare to professional sports teams.