It’s been a while since we checked in on the new $56 million stadium that Hartford is helping to build for the Double-A New Britain Rock Cats, who will become the Hartford Yard Goats. (It’s a train thing. Also, goats are cool now.) Apparently the latest is that in addition to the city paying the team to play in the stadium, it would also agree to exempt the team from the state’s 10% admission tax on tickets. [EDIT: Or more accurately, to kick back the admission tax to the city, which would use it to help make its payments to the team to help fund the stadium. So it would be shifting part of the existing subsidy cost from the city to the state, not on top of it.]
This is a gift that some other Connecticut venues have been able to extract from the state legislature, so on the one hand you can see why the Yard Goats (and the Bridgeport Bluefish, who are also seeking to get out of paying the admissions tax) would be going for this. On the other hand: Why on earth should the legislature of the state of Connecticut want to help a team move from one part of the state to another? Especially when the team is already moving, so this would simply be a gift to plump up the Yard Goat owners’ bottom line? (Don’t for a moment think that a lower ticket tax would make tickets cheaper for fans. Owners may not be rocket scientists, but they know how to charge 10% more in face value if a 10% tax goes away.) Why, I ask?
[State senator John] Fonfara said it was not unusual for the state to help businesses from moving out of state and instead move from one city to another. He cited the Diageo liquor producer moving from Stamford to Norwalk, Oakleaf Waste Management moving from East Hartford to Windsor, and the ING Financial Services moving from Hartford to Windsor.
And there you have it: States are now in the business of helping steal businesses from one city to move them to another, because if they don’t do so, some other state will do it first! Hey, Congress: Art Rolnick is still waiting.