Cuyahoga official wants to tie Indians, Cavs, Browns subsidies to teams actually winning games

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald has an idea for deciding how to hand over those $260 million in new cigarette and alcohol taxes approved last month to the Cleveland Indians, Cavaliers, and Browns, and it’s a doozy:

FitzGerald is expected on Thursday to propose tying distribution of 20 percent of the county’s sin tax to on-the-field performance from Cleveland’s professional sports teams, according to sources briefed on the plan.

The 20 percent — estimated to be at least $2.6 million a year — would be awarded to FirstEnergy Stadium, Progressive Field or Quicken Loans Arena based on the success of the teams using the facilities.

That’s … kinda crazy, but it just might work? An example of walking the fine line between stupid and clever? On the upside, if part of the value of a sports team to taxpayers is getting to jump up and down when your team wins, then creating an incentive for your team to win — other than the normal incentive of, you know, winning — makes a kind of sense. On the other hand, I have no idea how they’d write this into law — subsidy dollars based on winning percentage? bonuses for making the playoffs? — so right now it seems a bit like pandering to sports fans unhappy with their favorite teams’ owners getting money when the teams all suck. Tune in this afternoon for more details, maybe.


8 comments on “Cuyahoga official wants to tie Indians, Cavs, Browns subsidies to teams actually winning games

  1. It’s pandering alright. FitzGerald is running for governor and the incumbent, John Kasich, has re-made himself into a reasonable moderate after getting his ass handed to him on the collective bargaining thing a couple of years ago, so I see this as a play for attention. You would think this would have limited appeal outside of northeast Ohio, though, so who knows.

  2. Hey, if the team owner says “we need this to stay competitive,” it’s not unreasonable to ask that the team actually stay competitive. I bet Marlins fans wish Miami had asked for this…

  3. Well, the Marlins could be in first place by the end of the day.

    Still, I guess if you have to subsidize teams it’s reasonable that you ask them to do more than just pocket the resulting profits.

  4. Press conference liveblog in comments here:

    http://www.cleveland.com/cuyahoga-county/index.ssf/2014/06/ed_fitzgerald_will_announce_his_team_performance-based_sin_tax_distribution_plan_at_11_am_live_cover.html

    Also, I just talked to FitzGerald, will have full report in morning.

  5. I LOVE it!!! As a Cuyahoga county tax payer I LOVE it! Everyone knows this tax will bring in a surplus of monies beyond what’s needed for just maintenance. That is a fact. The other fact is that it has to be used for creation or upkeep of major league sports facilities (the ballot language HAD to be the same as the original proposal x many years ago). Sooo.. maintain the buildings with a base amount of the tax money and reward the winners with the rest for them to spend on any additional “upkeep” of the buildings. Set it up so the money is given to the teams retroactively after a certain number of years. If the teams are close in performance after that time, make it a wash. If all the teams still suck after the required time period, earmark the money for site preparation for a Major League Tiddleywink stadium.

  6. I’m thinking a referendum on what to do with the $260M sounds like a good idea. But you can’t vote unless you’re smoking or carrying a beer.

  7. These arenas and stadiums are such huge money-makers for municipalities that I have absolutely no idea why the teams would complain!

    (Snark.)

  8. Brilliant. Let’s run these teams like businesses and demand that they get at least a win loss ratio higher than 1:1 or no subsidy bonus that year. I would love to see what shenanigans the leagues would go to under that scenario.

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