Nearly a billion dollars of taxpayer money are being wasted by the NFL as the Oakland Raiders football team moves to Las Vegas. There are $750 million of direct costs in taxpayer subsidies to build a luxurious new stadium in the desert, plus roughly $95 million in unpaid debt on the stadium that’s being left behind in Oakland.
Oakland, CA taxpayers had already spent $110 million in improvements to the stadium being abandoned. St. Louis taxpayers are still on the hook for $85 million of the $300 million they committed to for the Rams' now-abandoned stadium; and San Diego owes $47 million on the football stadium renovated for the Chargers, who have now moved to Los Angeles.
That’s some very pricey litter left by billionaire NFL owners, which blights our struggling cities. Where are the environmentalists when we need them?
Overall, an estimated $6.7 billion in public money props up NFL stadiums today. In addition, the National Football League receives tax breaks and free public services, and demands massive sales tax refunds from locations that host the Super Bowl.
Now the NFL has gone from bad to worse. Last month nearly every NFL owner approved the move of the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas, cozying up to organized gambling. Oklahoma congressman Steve Russell has introduced H.R. 811 in the U.S. House. Known as the “No Tax Subsidies for Stadiums Act,” it seeks to close the tax exemption for financing these stadiums. His bill would “amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to treat obligations financing professional sports stadiums as private activity bonds if such obligations meet the private business use test.”
This bill could go further and end the tax write-offs for the luxury boxes purchased by corporate executives in these wasteful stadiums. States could also pass laws prohibiting sales tax refunds to the NFL for the Super Bowl, which amount to millions of dollars.
Fortunately, the public is waking up. Voters are increasingly rejecting demands by the NFL for greater subsidies, and rightly so. Las Vegas raided its taxpayer’s pockets for the Raiders only by persuading the state legislature to pony up the money.