Florida bill proposes ranking system for which teams get to glom onto tax subsidies first

Hey, remember a few weeks ago when Florida house speaker Will Weatherford announced that he wanted an actual process for deciding which sports teams should get state tax breaks, instead of the time-honored local custom of just throwing all the money in the air and letting team owners stuff whatever they could grab into their shirts? There’s an actual bill now, sponsored by state senator Jack Latvala, and here’s its list of criteria, as related by the Tampa Tribune:

  • The kinds of “signature events” — like Super Bowls, all-star games or racing championships — the facility might attract.
  •  The likely boost in ticket sales and attendance the project would create.
  •  The likelihood of attracting out-of-state visitors.
  •  How long a team has been in the state.
  •  Whether the new or renovated stadium could host a variety of sporting or other events.
  • The ranking process also would give extra points to teams that can put up half or more of the total project funds.

So that, um, a start, I guess? It’s arguably a pretty stupid start — why teams that have been in the state longer should get dibs is unclear, and there’s tons of evidence that “signature events” are essentially worthless to local economies — especially compared to a more reasonable metric like, say, whether a project would actually create a net return on investment for the state. And it sounds like this is just an attempt to create a ranking system for who’d be allowed to dip their beaks first into the state’s annual funding pool (which would be set at $13 million a year), which negates the possibility of deciding that there aren’t $13 million a year of projects worth funding at all.

Still, at least mediocre criteria are criteria, and they can always be tweaked later if (okay, when) they prove to be inadequate and ridiculously easy for team owners to game. Not that I really expect the Florida state legislature to pass bills twice in my lifetime putting more strings on sports subsidies, but in an infinite universe, anything is possible.

12 comments on “Florida bill proposes ranking system for which teams get to glom onto tax subsidies first

  1. I thought the bit about length of time in-state was the most interesting criteria. If every state passes something similar, it will eliminate the moving threat. Of course, there’s no incentive for a state with no professional sports teams to have something like that, but they’re generally less desirable markets anyway, so those places would need to really sweeten the pot.

  2. “why teams that have been in the state longer should get dibs is unclear”

    Maybe to give extra support to the Dolphins (who would win this category)? Other than the Dolphins and the Bucs (1976) all of Florida’s other pro teams started play between 1988 and 1998…so I guess this is bad for the Rays as well…

  3. So I guess the winner is… Daytona International Speedway? Does the facility count as a “team”?

  4. A set of criteria with no scoring system means very, very little. But I do find the bit about three bids interesting (although maybe three bids is common for stadia but the general public never hears about it…. three times the vaportechture would be fun). I also like the little blip at the end still permitting emergency procedures.


  5. “…so I guess this is bad for the Rays as well…”

    Some fraction of that $13 million a year isn’t going to get the Rays what they want, so their score doesn’t really matter much. It’s a ridiculously small amount of money considering there are three NFL teams, two MLB teams, two NHL teams, an NBA team and a couple of prospective MLS teams in the state. Maybe there’s a secret plan to set up the system with a small chunk of cash and then increase the size of the pool in the future.

  6. This is just for the state sales tax rebates, which have traditionally been capped at $2m annually per team anyway. Teams will still be welcome to ask cities and states for other tax money, as always.

  7. This is just the hypocrite way of rejecting the soccer teams and continue subsidizing his favorite sport.

  8. Steven, one of those teams already got their publicly-funded stadium with the sweetheart lease attached. It’s only a matter of time before the other one gets theirs too. They’re pretty well off without the immediate guarantee of a state subsidy.

    How’s Orlando’s bid to condemn a church to build the stadium on top of it going, by the way?

  9. The cost of the Orlando City stadium seems positively quaint (~$80MM) compared to the other stadium proposals/spends this bill would cover and Beckham and his handlers have so far said the “goal” is to privately fund their stadium, just surely with a sweetheart land deal given their target area’s price. Hard to drum up much sympathy for the church in Orlando, who asked for a total package nearly 60 times the value of the property to sell and are effectively blocking what could be a boon to a really depressed part of that city, but it’s sort of ridiculous Orlando went this far in purchasing up land without having all the potential sellers ironed out. Too late to find another space now.

  10. “effectively blocking what could be a boon to a really depressed part of that city”

    Fat chance. We said the same things about the Amway Center when ED was used to build that venue, yet there’s a number of businesses on either side of the downtown divide that are still boarded up to this day. I suspect the same thing will happen at this soccer stadium, especially since it won’t host nearly as many events as the AC throughout the year.

  11. Kei, the corporate names change to often to keep track of, which one is the Amway center? “City- League or Sport- Stadium or Arena” is the best way to do these things.

  12. The Amway Center is the new arena, where the Magic currently play.

    The Amway Arena (which btw used to be known as the TD Waterhouse Center) was where they used to play.