Miami celebrates subsidizing suddenly-crappy Heat by laying off librarians, cops

Now here’s a lede, courtesy of Bloomberg News:

Last month, Miami politicians approved a $19 million subsidy for the professional basketball arena. Six weeks later, they turned to a grimmer task: deciding how many police and librarians to fire.

It’s not quite fair to blame Miami-Dade County’s $64 million budget hole, which could require 700 layoffs, on the Heat arena subsidy deal, since that’s only costing the county $19 million in subsidies over 20 years (and more like $6 million in present value). Still, it’s not helping any, and does point up not only that it’s easier to get public money if you’re a rich guy with a sports team than if you’re actually working for the public, but that sports subsidies can often paint future elected officials into a budget corner. As Holy Cross sports economist Victor Matheson tells Bloomberg:

“You can’t stop your debt payments without actually declaring bankruptcy,” he said. “But you can cut the number of police officers and teachers and librarians and firefighters.”

But at least Miami fans can now rest easy that they can keep watching LeBron James for another, um, whoops. Heat owner Micky Arison sure timed that subsidy demand right, didn’t he?


4 comments on “Miami celebrates subsidizing suddenly-crappy Heat by laying off librarians, cops

  1. Isn’t this burying the lead Neil?

    I mean, shouldn’t the headline have read

    “Lebron leaves town, Miami closes all libraries and police stations – water supply may be next to go in economic catastrophe”?

  2. When you add up all the other subsidies the Heat and his cruise line business has received, yes Micky Arison is at fault for at least half those layoffs.

  3. Oh, sure, $19M over 20 years isn’t that big a deal, until you realize that the arena proponents there probably were certain that arena would make $20M/year (probably more).

    Compare performance against expectations to get a better picture.

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