Florida bill to limit stadium subsidies could end up encouraging more expensive projects

The Florida state bill to rank sports subsidy requests finally made it to committee yesterday (house economic affairs, if you’re scoring at home), and there are a few more details that hadn’t emerged previously:

  • Only projects costing $100 million or more would be eligible, and at least half the project’s funding must be from private sources. Spring training facilities are explicitly ruled out.
  • The bill would set aside $12 million a year in sales tax rebates, enough for six projects (at $2 million a year apiece), but that could later be expanded.
  • Each project must create a “positive return on the state’s investment,” though what this means is left undefined. Toward this end, each application must include “an independent analysis prepared by a certified public accountant” of how much in new sales taxes will be generated by the project. If the sales tax numbers don’t come in as promised within five years, the team would have to repay the subsidy, with a 5% penalty.

(PDF of the bill is here.)

There’s some good here, though there’s also a lot that makes it seem like the Florida legislature has just landed on this planet and discovered that stadium subsidies are a thing. (“Hey, guys, we need some kind of economic analysis. I know, let’s make sure a CPA does it! They’ll totally be qualified to calculate the sales tax substitution effect!”) The requirement that the projects must be half privately funded is somewhat promising, but also something that team owners can easily get around by, say, putting up half the up-front money and then getting repaid by public operating subsidies. At least the $100 million minimum is something that shouldn’t lend itself to any unintended consequences—

[Orlando] is planning an $85 million soccer-only stadium downtown, but could add more amenities with the extra state dollars boosting the project over the $100 million requirement.

D’oh!

Well, anyway, at least it looks like spring training stadiums would get ruled out for state aid

Florida governor Rick Scott used the Tigertown complex as the backdrop to announce a proposal to help cities in his state fund projects for Spring Training facilities to keep teams in the Grapefruit League.

The proposal seeks to establish a $5 million annual fund from which the state would work to match local government funding. The money would be tied specifically to Spring Training facilities.

D’OH!


3 comments on “Florida bill to limit stadium subsidies could end up encouraging more expensive projects

  1. I really love that they’re referring to this bill as the “Professional Sports Facility Incentive Program.” It’s such a classic case of framing by politicians and their strategists.

  2. Agree with you. In their effort to deny money to the sports they don’t like, teams will only ask for more. Can also see day when spring training parks compete with 6 flags.

  3. I would say at the minimum, 75% needs to come from private sources.

    But this is a very good start.

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