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.