Nobody’s actually sure how much public would pay for new Columbus Crew stadium

A funding plan for a new $230 million downtown stadium for the Columbus Crew began to come into focus this week, though admittedly not very much focus. The plan as constituted involves cash from new team owner (and Cleveland Browns) owner Jimmy Haslam, money from the city, money from the county, and money from the state, which Columbus Business First helpfully lays out as follows:

  • $50 million from the city, for “land acquisition, infrastructure and public improvements,” plus turning the old stadium into a “community sports park” (which would also serve as a training ground for the Crew).
  • $45 million from the county, paid out over 30 years, for “infrastructure and public improvements” around the new stadium.
  • $15 million from the state, also for infrastructure and public improvements.

This is hazy enough, given that “infrastructure” traditionally can mean lots of things, from stuff that the government does for pretty much anyone (say, extending sewer lines) to things that more normally would be on the developer’s tab (say, building parking garages).

But it gets even more confusing from there, because Haslam and his partners would only put up $150 million of the $230 million cost, with the rest coming from a new state authority (in Ohio amusingly dubbed an NCA, for “New Community Authority”) that would collect the county and state money. Which doesn’t add up to $80 million, you will notice. Plus, the NCA would have to backfill any property taxes due from the surrounding private development, which is in a Community Revitalization Area and so eligible for 100% tax abatements.

That is an opaque fiscal soup, one that makes it nearly impossible to come up with a dollar figure for how much of a subsidy the Crew owners would be getting from taxpayers. Which is to the Crew owners’ benefit, no doubt, but it’s the kind of thing that hopefully we’ll get more clarity on before any governmental votes on — whoops, looks like the Columbus city council and Ohio state house already voted to approve their share of the money. Well, maybe we’ll learn more about where the money will be coming from and what it will be spent on before the Ohio state senate [UPDATE: too late!] and Franklin County board of commissioners vote, anyway. Or they can always vote first and ask questions later, that always works out great!


5 comments on “Nobody’s actually sure how much public would pay for new Columbus Crew stadium

  1. Already passed the Senate https://www.cleveland.com/politics/2018/12/ohio-lawmakers-give-final-approval-to-bill-with-millions-for-columbus-crew-stadium-flood-control.html

  2. I knew this would happen. The voters voted FIVE TIMES against a publicly-funded arena. So they built it with private funds, and then cleverly weaseled a way to sell that same arena to the public without a public vote. And now this. It’s outrageous.

    And to top it off, a massively corrupt scoundrel like Jimmy Haslam is involved, with his ultimate goal (besides again raping the public) to move the Browns summer camp to Columbus. All this in spite of the fact that Berea, the present location of summer camp in a Cleveland’s suburb, had recently donated (without any public vote) $15 million in additional Berea taxpayer money to the Browns for their Berea facilities. Now those same Berea taxpayers are getting effed. Again.

  3. I live in Ohio, but 160 miles from Columbus and have zero interest in soccer.(Is that the game where you can’t touch the ball?) What the heck do I get for my tax contributions?

  4. “the government does for pretty much anyone (say, extending sewer lines) to things that more normally would be on the developer’s tab (say, building parking garages).”

    Actually with a large amount of development, cities capture development or other fees/taxes specific to the project to cover these costs.