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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.