Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Lightning Strikes the Taxpayers

Tampa Bay Lightning President Ron Campbell is pushing for another tax break. The Lightning want this tax break to last twenty years. The total will be $60 million over 20 years.

Campbell boasts about the Lightning paying $7 million in sales taxes on jerseys. What Campbell fails to mention is the Lightning would be paying less taxes if to $2 million break went through. The Lightning already receive a $2 million rabate from sales taxes. Hillsborough County is spending $35 million on renovations. If there was no hockey team; the money spent by comsumers, at the Forum, would go to other forms of entertainment. Most Forum employees only work during events. Stanford University Economics Professor Roger G. Noll has written at length about sporting facilities.

“No recent facility appears to have earned anything approaching a reasonable return on investment. No recent facility has been self-financing in terms of its impact on net tax revenues. Regardless of whether the unit of analysis is a local neighborhood, a city, or an entire metropolitan area, the economic benefits of sports facilities are de minimus.”

The benefactors are the team owners and players. The tax break frees the owners to make bigger profits and increase player saleries. The taxpayers are stuck paying for stadium repairs and security. Remember when Malcolm Glazer promised to cover halp the cost of Raymond James Stadium? Glazer quickly broke that promise.

Sen. Mike Fasano is working on a bill that would give the Lightning the tax break. The Lightning would have to pay a penalty of any future payments made on the arena if they moved. That cost would most likely be incurred by the new city the Lightning moves to. It's not hard for a sports franchise to get a city to pay their bills.

Update: Jim Johnson comes out in support of the tax rebate. The economics positives of Vincent Lecavalier and Mike Alstott buying gas in the community leaves me underwhelmed.


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