Feature

The NFL: The richest welfare cheat

Why do the taxpayers so heavily subsidize the billionaires who own NFL teams?

Gregg Easterbrook
The Atlantic

The NFL is America’s premier sports league, said Gregg Easterbrook. So why do the taxpayers so heavily subsidize the billionaires who own the teams? In city after city, the wealthy family owners are given gigantic government subsidies and loan guarantees to build their stadiums, without being required to share one penny of the billions in revenues from ticket sales and TV rights. About 70 percent of stadium construction costs, in fact, are provided by taxpayers. On top of that outrageous handout, local politicians dazzled by their association with the glamorous sport (and seats in the luxury box) ladle out lavish tax breaks to the teams. The Dallas Cowboys, for example, should be paying Arlington, Texas, at least $6 million a year in property taxes on their massive $1 billion stadium, but were given a 100 percent exemption. The entire league is exempt from antitrust laws, and operates like a favored industry in Putin’s Russia. What this means is that “ordinary people are taxed so NFL owners and officers can live as modern feudal lords and ladies.” In our free-market system, shouldn’t a wildly successful league have to stand on its own two feet?

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