Senator: Let taxpayers own teams, not build stadiums | News, Sports, Jobs

FILE – Buffalo Bills fans leave Bills Stadium as a mascot waves a flag after an NFL Divisional football game against the Baltimore Ravens, January 16, 2021, in Orchard Park, NY The Taxpayers of the State and county will be asked to commit $850 million in public funds for the construction of the new Buffalo Bills stadium, which the state has projected to be priced at $1.35 billion, a person familiar with the matter said. plan to The Associated Press on Monday, March 28, 2022. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus, File)

If New York residents foot the bill for sports stadiums, Sen. Jabari Brisport thinks state residents should also have the option to buy the teams.

Brisport recently introduced S.8781 to the State Senate in response to the state’s $850 million deal to help the Buffalo Bills build a new stadium. New York State taxpayers would pay $600 million, with Erie County, where the team is located, spending an additional $250 million. Terry and Kim Pegula, owners of the Bills, would pay 39% of the construction cost.

Before the state budget — and the Bills’ stadium construction funding plan — was finalized, Brisport drafted a letter signed by 20 state senators opposing the deal. Brisport, D-Brooklyn, wrote that the NFL, an entity valued at $112 billion, only agreed to commit $200 million to the stadium deal through a loan while in disagreement with bills retaining all stadium revenue, which includes parking, concessions, naming, television and media rights.

Now, Brisport is proposing a new section in the state’s General Municipal Law stating that any new stadium receiving 51% or more of its funding from public funds provides local and state government with the ability to purchase a stake of more than 51% in the professional sports team. .

“This legislation is based on a simple principle: if the public spends money on a sports franchise, it is the public who should benefit,” Brisport wrote in his legislative memorandum. “As a result, if more than half of a new stadium is funded by public support, the public should have the option of buying more than half of the sports franchise. This will ensure that billionaire sports franchises cannot extort the public and that the real stakeholders – the people of New York who support the team – will benefit from all public spending.

As was the case in his letter, Brisport’s legislative rationale is for the use of state tax money to pay for stadiums at the expense of other programs in high-poverty areas. A review of the most recently built or renovated stadiums for Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, and the National Hockey League in New York shows that the Bills’ stadium deal is an outlier. According to the Investigative Post, five stadiums and arenas in New York City have been built since 2009 – new baseball stadiums for the Yankees and Mets, a hockey arena for the New York Islanders, and the new arena for the Brooklyn Nets. . Madison Square Garden was also renovated in 2013. Together, these five projects received approximately $379 million—or 6% of the combing project cost—from taxpayers.

“The idea that the public needs to fund these private projects with public money is an idea that simply cannot withstand public scrutiny,” Brisport wrote. “This is exactly why it is so common for deals regarding these projects to be negotiated behind closed doors, away from public scrutiny, and then announced publicly as a done deal. The public is usually heavily armed in these corrupt arrangements, based either on false promises of public interest, or on veiled threats that the team will leave without the public subsidies immediately being granted.Elected officials are often kept in the dark.However, economists have been absolutely clear in objecting that these muddled projects benefit neither the public nor the local economy; rather, it is an open secret that the costs are made public, while the benefits are privatized to the same circle of wealthy owners.

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