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September 30, 2009
Jacksonville mulling new Jaguars stadium subsidy
The Los Angeles NFL stadium talk has already sparked ripple effects in Jacksonville, where city council president Richard Clark is proposing to add $5 million a year to what the city spends on maintaining and upgrading Municipal Stadium for the Jaguars, who are rumored to be considering leaving town.
The money, generated by local hotel taxes, currently goes to Jacksonville's convention center, which is scheduled to be fully paid off next month. "The Jaguars are an enormous economic driver in this city, and we owe it to them as much as we owe it to the taxpayers who own the stadium," Clark told Jacksonville.com — yes, that'd be the taxpayers who would otherwise be getting back $5 million a year, or at least the benefits thereof, if the money weren't going to the Jaguars.
Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton endorsed Clark's plan, saying it would help allow the city to "maintain a world-class facility." Oh, you really don't want to go there.
Just as I predicted not 3 days ago. The Dallas stadium will start a new wave of, "improve our 90's stadiums" as has now happened in Jacksonville and is sure to happen in many other cities save those that have recently improved their stadiums or are improving them right now like Miami. The only cities where you'll see demands for totally new stadiums are the teams already clammoring for them (San Francisco, Minnesota, San Diego, and possibly Buffalo and St Louis since both cities were hinting they wanted new stadiums already. Though St. Louis might settle for the upgrade plan as well.) For everyone else, upgrades will do fine for their demands.
So let's review: first, the Jags have to have their stadium upgraded, on the public dime. Now, they're going to be getting another 5 large in taxpayer money. Also, we're talking about a small market to begin with, which has been hit hard by the recession. And the NFL's response to this gift of public largesse is to black out all the Jags' home games in the local market this season, per the NFL's blackout rule, despite the fact that people simply cannot afford to pay to go to the games.
One wonders at what point the people of a city simply ask, "Why the **** are we still subsidizing this team like this, making rich players, coaches, and owners even richer? Why not just bite the bullet and let the team go if they want? Is hosting a major league team really worth all this?"
Tom, its my experience that the "people" rarely are provided a voice or "say" in what their representatives do or don't do.
If the politicians (who are usually in lock-step with professional sports team owners who give largely to their campaigns for office...they know who butters their bread) want to give more taxpayer money to a sports team...they just DO it. They justify that it is an "investment" depsite the fact that the taxpayers receive NO return on the "investment," unless "civic pride" is the dividend they are refering to.
Until viable candidates for political office who remain independent from lobbying ($$$) from sports owners are elected, expect more of the same...