You may not love football

Philadelphia Eagles vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers | Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia PA

But you’re still paying for it!

If you’re a U.S. taxpayer then you’re subsidizing the wildly profitable National Football League, regardless of whether you’re a fan.

The NFL is the most profitable pro sports league in the U.S., raking in an estimated $1 billion in profits on $10.5 billion in revenue last season, figures that are sure to increase this year.

Those massive profits are made possible in part by the billions of taxpayer dollars that local governments spend on teams, coupled with tax breaks worth hundreds of millions for the teams, the league, their sponsors and fans.

Here’s a rundown:

Stadium construction: Twenty new NFL stadiums have opened since 1997 with the help of $4.7 billion in taxpayer funds, according to an analysis by the advisory firm Conventions, Sports and Leisure. Local governments pony up to build these venues to attract or keep teams in their towns.

Two more stadiums now under construction in Minneapolis and Atlanta are being built with $700 million in government funds.

Taxpayers paid for most of the University of Phoenix Stadium, which opened in 2006 and is home to this Sunday’s Super Bowl — to the tune of about $300 million.

Teams even get tax breaks on the money they actually do spend on construction. Most of that spending is financed with tax free municipal bonds, which were originally created by Congress to help fund roads and schools.

A 2012 analysis by Bloomberg showed that U.S. sports teams will save $4 billion over the life of those bonds, with the NFL being the largest beneficiary. The owners of the Arizona Cardinals saved an estimated $125 million on the bonds issued to build the University of Phoenix Stadium.

Hidden help: The league also gets a financial boost in a less obvious ways, said Eckstein. Elected officials vying for a team to come to their town often serve up discounted city services, such as utilities or police patrolling a stadium on game day.

Teams also often get big breaks on their property taxes.

“There is a shift going on from obvious brick and mortar subsidy to more hidden, subtle form of subsidy,” he said.

H/t Maryland Criminal Lawyer Edward Tayter.

3 thoughts on “You may not love football

  1. Most taxpayers vote to approve not only the new stadiums, but also those tax free bonds that pay for them. Color most sports fans as dumb as a stump.
    Those of us who know better then to support building new stadiums and floating tax free bonds are always paying the freight for the rest of the dopes in America.
    For example our defense budget is too damn big. We spend more on defense then the next 10 largest countries (in terms of GDP) on the planet combined. $605 billion vs. $599 billion a year.
    We spend more on defense then we do on any other single program except for Social Security ($938 billion). And that program is self-financed.
    Social Security and Medicare are not “entitlement” programs. Those who refer to them in that way are liars.
    Football is just one of the many “bread and circuses” that the corrupt politicians offer us to keep our attention distracted away from the important stuff in our lives. Like war and peace.

  2. The Atlanta Stadium was not voted on – I certainly didn’t. It’s being built to pander to the white fan-base in the northern suburbs and they are building it right across the street from my office close to one of the most congested expressway interchanges in the nation (I-75/I-85). The area is already a nightmare – and I am deeply grateful to be a telecommuter. They don’t like that The Dome is in the “city”, see?.
    I hate American football with the fire of 10,000 suns – it’s a violent and dangerous game played for the most part by felonious misogynist aholes and their bigoted vulgar owners. All major league sports in this country are rotted certainly down to college level and aiming for the 3-year olds. I make an exception for women’s sports which doesn’t seem to be quite so corrupted yet. Not as much money involved I guess.

  3. Imho*, NFL teams also spend a lot of money on defense.
    * Imho is meant here as both an internet acronym, and as a nickname for our hardest-working respondent.

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