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Thursday, March 26, 2009
Marlins New Stadium Deal = Worst in Taxpayer History?

On several occasions, I have written about how professional sports teams use monopoly power to demand stadium subsidies from their local governments.

Yesterday, at Above the Law, I argued that the new stadium agreement just signed between Miami-Dade County and Florida Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria will prove to be the worst ever for taxpayers.
I believe this for three reasons:

1. The specific terms of the Marlins stadium agreement skew hugely in the team's favor. Although Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is funding only about 25% of the new stadium's costs, he will get to keep 100% of stadium revenues -- including non-baseball related revenues, concert revenues, and revenues from the sale of stadium naming rights. The county, which is paying $359 million in up-front funding, meanwhile keeps nothing.

2. Marlins ownership has never been willing to invest money into their club. Last year, the Marlins team payroll was just $22 million, which is $58 million below the league median, and by far the lowest in the league. Rather than investing in their own team, Marlins President David Samson often used the threat of keeping a low payroll as part of his strategy in demanding public subsidies.

3. This is America's first stadium deal since our economy collapsed. It cannot be overlooked that in the past year the average taxpayer has lost close to half of his retirement funds, and that, with unemployment skyrocketing, local municipalities will collect less tax money in 2008 and 2009 than in the past. This all makes this public funding to one of the county's already wealthiest citizens all the more repulsive.

For those interested in reading my full column at Above the Law, please see here. Also, my most recent law review article on publicly funded sports stadiums is attached here.


I completely agree. The deal that the Marlins signed is totally going to leave Miami-Dade County asking "what happened?"

However, it's really hard for me to have much sympathy for MD County as they had the opportunity to vote this down, but their misplaced reasons for wanting an MLB team blinded them

They should have just let the team leave. The city of Miami would be much better off in the long run than spending all of this money on a team who will - even with a new stadium - still only sell out half of the stadium.

Blogger Pbenn001 -- 3/26/2009 12:24 PM  

This is bad, but it may not be quite as bad as the Nationals stadium deal, which called for the team to contribute only $20 million plus annual rent toward the $690 million project while receiving virtually 100% of all stadium revenues and naming rights. The only other thing the team pays is rent, and the city only gets about a dozen dates where it can use the stadium for its own events.

The Nats deal could be better in that the stadium was placed in a neighborhood that would benefit from the stadium activity. But you may never again see a stadium that was virtually 100% financed by a single municipality.

Blogger Tim -- 3/26/2009 2:22 PM  

You say, For those interested in reading my full column at Above the Law...

No thanks. Just reading this makes me too upset to read any more. These public funding deals are an embarrassment.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 3/26/2009 3:36 PM  

I hate the idea of publicly funding private businesses... especially profitable ones!


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Anonymous Anonymous -- 3/30/2009 5:17 PM  

The link to Above The Law does not work for me. I believe the proper link should be:

Anonymous Devin Black -- 3/30/2009 6:34 PM  

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