Salt Lake City’s $22.7 million tax break for renovations to the Utah Jazz‘s privately owned arena is all over but the shouting, and there’s plenty of that:
- Deseret News sports columnist Brad Rock writes that “the tradition of coercing cities into building sports arenas at public expense, under threat of relocation, is tried and true,” but then adds that he’s fine with being threatened if the price is right: “If Utah loses the Jazz, for lack of an updated arena, Salt Lake will return to the college town it was when the team arrived.” Not that the Jazz have threatened to leave town, mind you, or that it would make any sense for them to do so when they’d be abandoning an arena they themselves own, or even that this deal does anything to stop them from threatening to leave again later. But, you know, cold Omaha.
- Salt Lake City Redevelopment Agency chair Lisa Adams says it was a “rookie mistake” to schedule the arena subsidy vote only one day in advance, and that if she had it to do over again she’d give a month of lead time so people could actually discuss the plan first. Not that she’s offering to go back and change her vote now, but, you know, next time.
Once again, $22.7 million isn’t a huge subsidy for the year 2016, but on the other hand Salt Lake got exactly zero in exchange: no added arena revenues, no signed commitment to stay in Utah for a longer term, just 60% of the additional property tax revenues from the increased value of the arena — where if they hadn’t approved the subsidy, they’d be getting 100% of those. If this is the last time the Jazz ask for public money for the next couple of decades, it’s at least a fairly modest sum; if it turns out to be the camel’s nose, that’ll be a different story.