Tonight, baseball’s All-Stars will be on display as Major League Baseball’s National League and American League face-off to see who’s league is best, and who will earn home field advantage in the World Series. While many watched Aaron Judge dent the recently constructed stadium’s roof in the home run derby, viewers will be surprised to learn that construction of the “Most Expensive Stadium Ever Built” also put a dent in their wallets.
Marlins Park broke ground in 2009 and was completed in 2012. However, before breaking ground, the leaders of Miami-Dade County had a decision to make, approve funding for the new ballpark or potentially lose the Marlins. They chose the former, and now taxpayers are expected to shell out about $2.4 billion for the stadium.
In principle, the County of Miami-Dade would pay $376.3 million (59.4%), the City of Miami would pay $132.5 million (20.9%), and the Marlins would pay $125.2 million (19.7%) for the new stadium. However, since Miami-Dade did not have the money at the time of construction, they were forced to sell bonds on Wall Street, which is where the federal government pitched in with a $132 million subsidy by allowing the bonds issued to be exempt from federal taxes.
This is a taxpayer’s worst nightmare. The Marlins owner held Miami hostage, and threatened to move the team unless he got the money he wanted from taxpayers. Unfortunately, like most cities in this situation, the team owner got what he wanted, and received a new stadium even though the public paid four times the amount than he did.
An unfortunate scenario has been all but the norm for city taxpayers around the country. However, there is a bipartisan bill in Congress sponsored by Sen. Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Lankford (R-OK) and Rep. Russell (R-OK) to close a loophole in the tax code that allows professional sports teams to finance new stadiums with municipal bonds that are exempt from federal taxes.
Since 2000, “$3.2 billion in federal taxpayer money, through municipal bonds, has been used to fund 36 newly built or renovated sports stadiums. The largest federal subsidies, according to [a Brookings] report, include the New York Yankees ($431 million), the Chicago Bears ($205 million), the New York Mets ($185 million), the Cincinnati Bengals ($164 million) and the Indianapolis Colts ($163 million).
While this bill would not have saved Miami taxpayers, it could save taxpayers around the country from financing stadiums with their hard earned dollars. It would also eliminate federal support for the hostage taking techniques used by sports owners to receive massive amounts of public funding from often cash strapped cities and citizens.
There will be plenty to cheer about tonight, the history of baseball and its impact on American society, sportsmanship, and exciting plays, but one thing that should not get cheered is the stadium built by taxpayers for a billionaire owner.
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Adam joined Restore Accountability in 2016 and manages the Foundation's day to day creative operations. Previously, he spent two years on Capitol Hill working for Senator Tom Coburn and Senator Jeff Flake...FULL BIO