Voters just say “no” to stadium welfare
One particularly galling example of corporate welfare is the practice of sports teams convincing local governments to use taxpayer dollars and other publicly-funded goodies to build private stadiums.
The selling points are almost always the same: taxpayers can’t lose! The stadium will bring in big money from across the region – it will pay for itself, and create a slew of jobs and new businesses too.
Those promises almost always fail to come true, so it’s a heartening thing to see voters in some cities say “no” to such boondoggles:
Denver’s proposed new stadium was one of three similar projects to get a resounding thumbs-down from the public during this week’s elections. In Albuquerque, New Mexico, a proposal that would have spent $50 million in public money on a $70 million stadium for the city’s minor league soccer team was rejected by 65 percent of voters. That happened despite Mayor Tim Keller—a vocal proponent of the project—winning reelection and despite voters approving all the other bond measures on the ballot, Field of Schemes blogger Neil deMause notes.
“The people of Albuquerque also made it clear they want public resources used on other community and social priorities,” Stop the Stadium, a group that led opposition to the Albuquerque project, said in a statement.
Meanwhile, 65 percent of voters in Augusta, Georgia, rejected a similar bond issue that would have seen the city take on debt to fund the construction of a $235 million stadium for a yet-to-be-determined future occupant (possibly a minor league hockey team). The cost of the new stadium was projected to add about $100 to the average property tax bill in the city—all to create “a handful of new permanent jobs,” according to The Augusta Chronicle. Who wouldn’t vote for that?
But voters in Augusta might not have the final say on whether their wallets get raided for the project. Brad Usry, vice chairman of the county authority that would run the new stadium, told the Chronicle last month that a “no” vote would “only delay the project so the authority can find other means of funding it.”
Good for the voters seeing through the sales job about these stadiums. And “boo” to the pols and their boosters who keep pushing these monumental wastes of taxpayer money. One day, perhaps, this particularly costly vein of cronyism and corporate welfare will end. Until then, keep fighting against the giveaways.