Florida homeless-shelter bill wouldn’t actually recoup stadium subsidies

Apparently there’s a small problem with that bill to require Florida stadiums that received public funds to double as homeless shelters. As Stephen Nohlgren of the Tampa Bay Times reports, the original requirement was introduced in 1988 to win support for allowing sales-tax money to be kicked back to help pay for construction of the stadium that went on to become Tropicana Field, current home of the Rays — a subsidy scheme that’s since been used by numerous other sports teams. The bill, proposed by state senator Michael Bennett, would require that stadiums immediately set up shelters on off days, or else refund all the cash they’ve received.

And the problem? Take it away, Nohlgren:

But in fact, only one stadium listed by legislative analysts — the Miami Dolphins’ Sun Life Stadium — is owned by a team that received the sales tax exemption. The other 17 are owned by cities, counties or public sports authorities. Refunds would be borne by taxpayers.

The bill doesn’t seem to have much chance of passage in its current form, regardless, though it’s always possible it will lead to some debate on legislation that would actually affect the sports teams that Bennett is upset about subsidizing. I wouldn’t hold your breath, though.

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12 comments on “Florida homeless-shelter bill wouldn’t actually recoup stadium subsidies

  1. Once again we see the great value in having the local city or county own the stadium; benefits to the team, liabilities to the people.

  2. Oh come off it. This is only a liability because some moron from that same “people” wrote a never enforced law that makes no sense to turn sporting venues into homeless shelters.

  3. Dan, While I agree that not enforcing this law all these years was a poor choice, I don’t understand why turning these venues to homeless shelters “makes no sense.” Care to elaborate?

  4. Neil, have you ever researched cities that don’t have professional sports teams to see if their quality of life is still excellent without having a team?? It seems like it would be, less taxes being pilfered from the public coffers, etc…

  5. Chris, because first “sheltering” the homeless implies you’ll actually be sheltering them. Last I checked most of the stadiums on that list are outdoor stadiums and are not a form of “shelter” from the elements anymore than sleeping on a street corner. And second, the idea behind that bill was flawed in that it assumes that venues are not being used on non-event days for team operations and other team activities. Forcing them to work around the homeless being streamed in would likely violate a fair number of leases.

  6. Wow…What an insanely dumb idea. Just because a stadium isn’t hosting an event, doesn’t mean it is empty. It is the office of hundreds of people on a daily basis. I’m sure these everyday people, who had nothing to do with funding of the building in which they work, would just love to come and work around the homeless every day. This is just a case of some politician trying to make a name for himself. I guess it worked, since his name is in the paper.

  7. Wade: It’s tough to find a major city without *any* pro sports teams. That said, as just one example, Portland turned down the NFL in the 1970s, and is constantly winning “most livable city” awards.

  8. I think you can throw Austin, TX on that list of livable cities as well that don’t have major pro-sports teams.

  9. Omaha just spent $500 mil on two venues.

    It’s hard to find cities that aren’t spending on venues these days. Honolulu and Vegas both have massive expenditures proposed.

  10. Omaha just spent $500 mil on two venues.

    It’s hard to find cities that aren’t spending on venues these days. Honolulu and Vegas both have massive expenditures proposed.

  11. Any city would be super livable if it had Portland’s preponderance of craft beers, strip clubs and atheism.

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