By John Stossel • Reason
Today is the Super Bowl.
I look forward to playing poker and watching. It’s easy to do both because in a three-hour-plus NFL game there are just 11 minutes of actual football action.
So we’ll have plenty of time to watch Atlanta politicians take credit for the stadium that will host the game. Atlanta’s former mayor calls it “simply the best facility in the world.”
But politicians aren’t likely to talk about what I explain in my latest video—how taxpayers were forced to donate more than $700 million to the owner of Atlanta’s football team, billionaire Arthur Blank, to get him to build the stadium.
In addition to the subsidies, the Falcons get all the money from parking, restaurants, and merchandise sales. Sweet deal.
But not an unusual one. Some NFL teams collect even more in government subsidies than it cost to build their stadiums.
So taxpayers, most of whom never attend a game, subsidize billionaires.
Seems like a scam.
I don’t fault Blank for grabbing the money. I like the guy. He made our lives better by founding Home Depot. We’re both stutterers who donate money to AIS, a stuttering treatment program.
Since politicians give money away, Blank’s shareholders would consider him irresponsible not to take it.
The problem is that politicians give away your money in the first place.
I understand why they do it.
They like going to games and telling voters, “I brought the team to our town!”
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman and her cronies recently funneled $750 million of taxpayer money to the owners of the Oakland Raiders to get them to move the team to Vegas.
Reporter Jon Ralston asked her, “Why should there be one cent of public money when you have two guys who could pay for this themselves?”
The mayor replied lamely, “I think it really is a benefit to us that really could spill over into something.”
Spill over into…something. Politicians always claim giving taxpayer money to team owners will “spill over” to the whole community.
They call their handouts investments—a “terrific investment,” as the mayor of Atlanta put it.
But it’s not a good investment. It’s a bad one.