Public Funds for Stadium Construction

One of the more controversial ethical practices of sports owners is to request, and at times demand, public money to construct or renovate stadiums.  This money usually comes in the form of a slight raise in sales or restaurant taxes.  These raises are not permanent, but rather exist only until the debt incurred by building the stadium is paid off.  This practice at first seems absurd, but it makes some sense if you look at it a little deeper.  There are many benefits to having a professional sports team in a city.  These benefits range from the tangible(a large increase in business for restaurants and hotels) to the intangible(a city is not really considered big time without a sports team) and in many cases do justify the use of some public funding.  The problem now is that this practice is so ingrained that many owners hold city and local governments hostage with the threat of moving until they get the stadium financing they want.  This forces cities to either agree to terms that are not beneficial or to lose their team.  Either way the city is going to take a financial hit.  The practice of using public funds is not necessarily bad but currently the owners have too much leverage and are too easily able to exploit local governments.  This problem exists because modern sports arenas are so expensive that people now take for granted the fact that they cannot be built without public funds.  The proposed new football stadium in Los Angeles is a big exception to this policy.  According to their website, the ownership group led by Majestic Realty Co. has completely financed the stadium using only private money.  This will not be possible in every case, particularly in smaller markets, but it is an option that should be explored before taxpayer money is committed.


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