The week that Newt Gingrich called for non-profit sports team ownership

And then there’s this:

Yes, that’s the Newt Gingrich, not Fake Newt Gingrich or The Real Newt Gingrich or any of those. Apparently the Donald Sterling scandal was enough to get the guy who thinks that the solution to corporate tax dodging is to lower corporate taxes to a rate they won’t cheat on to decide that for-profit ownership is wrong for the Los Angeles Clippers, because hoops belongs to the people, man. (Though given Gingrich’s past history with not-for-profits, maybe he just means a shell corporation that would pay a local rich guy to run the team.)

Anyway, it all gave ThinkProgress’s Travis Waldron a good opportunity to go on about the benefits of public and not-for-profit ownership of sports teams, which can only be a good thing:

Even if you don’t care how many games the Clippers or any other privately-owned team wins, even if you hate sports, there are benefits to fan ownership. A fan-owned team has direct ties to its community, and so it’s next to impossible that the team could pick up and move to a new city if its current home decides not to give it massive public subsidies for a new stadium. That both avoids the ugly problems that occur whenever cities fork over hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies and keeps teams from playing hop-scotch to new cities. A private owner would have moved the Packers out of Green Bay decades ago. Instead, they remain in a tiny town in Middle-of-Nowhere, Wisconsin.

Of course, the Packers did manage to get Green Bay (actually Brown County) to fork over $295 million in subsidies in 2000 by threatening to play hopscotch to a new city (or to have the NFL force them to move, or something — the threat was never quite clear), so it’s not a perfect point. But still, public ownership does have its benefits.

11 comments on “The week that Newt Gingrich called for non-profit sports team ownership

  1. As long as “nonfans” are not forced to subsidize the teams – as they are now everywhere. Conspiracy theory time – some billionaire owners want out while teams are still pricey. They can cut and run with their profits before all the concussion liabilities set in and before laws or public demands limit their subsidies and inflate their liabilities. So now, places like the City of Los Angeles could pay all the concussion liabilities as well as the financial costs of arenas and stadiums. Friday’s “Crossfire” on CNN – co-hosted by Gingrich – at least acknowledged taxpayers are invested in stadiums. Sunday’s Meet the Press had the Sacramento mayor -who never was challenged on his cushy deals for the Sacramento Kings owners- as he sanctimoniously blamed others for California losing companies to other states because of taxes.

  2. With an estimated value of between $550 million and $1 billion, how much does Gingrich envision the public spending to buy the team from its current owners ? Those would be some insanely expensive PSLs (if they went the FC Barcelona route).

    Kind of moot anyways… when he was in office he could have at least introduced to the house a bill to remove non-profit status to the NFL when bylaws restrict ownership of members to for-profits.

  3. Claiming the Packers would’ve moved might be the most idiotic thing to ever come out of Think Progress. Or at least in the top hundred. Today.

  4. I’m in favor of billionaire owners, not plebes. It takes rich guys to buy all the politicians to get these stadiums built. I should know.

  5. I don’t get the benefit of owning Packer stock unless you want to make a gift to the team. My understanding is your stock can’t be sold for a gain (I’m not even certain it can be sold at all). What’s the point of public ownership under these circumstances? It certainly doesn’t sound like an investment I’d want any part of.

  6. @Ben Miller – Apparently, the Wall Street Journal got it wrong as well…

    From the article – “In 1950, to save the franchise and keep it in Green Bay, shareholders—mostly residents—bought 4,700 shares at $25 each, with a limit of 200 per investor.”

    Thanks for playing, though.

  7. I really have no idea why the Packers don’t just go to Milwaukee. In this day and age, it seems like the more sensible thing to do.

  8. They have a giant stadium that they sell out regularly. And it’s not like local cable rights matter in the NFL.

    As I’ve said many times, you could put an NFL team in Kuala Lumpur or on the moon, and so long as they had a lucrative enough stadium lease and a chunk of the national TV rights, they’d be fine.

  9. @Roger C
    The Packers used to play a couple of games a year in Milwaukee, but stopped because they didn’t draw well there. Part of that was because Milwaukee County Stadium was a terrible football venue, but it’s still surprising given how beloved the Packers are in Milwaukee. There are plenty of Milwaukee fans that will make the 2.5 hour trek to Lambeau Field 8 times a year, though.

    Being in Green Bay is part of the Packers mythos – the Milwaukee Packers, or Los Angeles Packers, rings a bit hollow.

    I love that line about “Middle of Nowhere Wisconsin”, by the way. You can just hear the derision dripping from the screen. Only “real” cities are supposed to have NFL teams, after all. Wonder what that makes L.A.?

  10. @CoderInCrisis:

    I’m pretty sure that the ThinkProgress writer was giving Green Bay a back-handed compliment. (albeit an inelegant one). He’s saying the community-owner status quo is great, because if some 1 percenter owned it, they would been like “I’m not keeping this team out here in the middle of nowhwere Wisconsin when I could be making REAL dollars in LA !!” )
    I could be wrong, but I think that’s what was being said.