Politicians must stop subsidizing rich sports teams

Why is there no money for the poor, but always money for stadiums?

Income inequality is spiralling out of control. More and more people are being locked out of the middle class, and are struggling just to get by. People are becoming trapped in poverty and are not getting any hand up.

At the same time, governments are deeply in debt. At almost every level and jurisdiction, governments are running up massive debts to keep providing basic services, raising the risk of tax hikes and service cuts.

So, when anti-poverty groups ask for help, governments often (ironically), plead poverty. “Oh we’re so far in debt,” “we need to balance the budget,” etc.

Yet, when rich sports teams come by asking for taxpayer money it’s like a miracle occurs. Lo and behold there is tons of money available!

This is vote-buying pure and simple. Politicians think there are more votes in pouring taxpayer money into stadiums than reducing poverty. Though politicians claim otherwise, spending on stadiums does not help the economy. A CBC report makes this clear:

“The vast majority of studies done on the financial benefits of new sporting facilities by researchers not connected to any sport, league, or team have not found any economic boost for cities, experts say.”

“Most of the independent research can’t find any economic impact associated with either new arenas, new stadiums, or new franchises or large events,” said Victor Matheson, a professor of economics at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Ma., who has been researching the economics of sport for more than a decade.”

The CBC report further states, “While local businesses may see an increase in sales around the stadium, it’s sales and money that would have been spent in other parts of the community, for the most part,” said Richard Powers, a lecturer at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. “So they’re just redirecting it into a certain area.”

“With little economic benefit, the hefty amount of money coming out of city coffers to fund these shiny new facilities is “hard to justify if other infrastructure projects are being put on hold,” he added.”

And these are rich teams. According to Human Kinetics, “Many professional sport teams have annual revenues that exceed $100 million. Average annual revenues are approximately $155 million in the NFL, $130 million in MLB, $95 million in the NBA, and $70 million in the NHL.”

This is about priorities. The government exists to serve the people. Citizens in poverty should be a priority way ahead of giving money to stadiums of teams owned by millionaires and billionaires.

It makes no sense for governments to be shoveling money into the pockets of rich sports franchises. These are privately owned teams, so they can raise money in the private market.

If you really want to boost the economy, that money should be going towards supporting low-income & middle class people. A report by the IMF shows that money putting money in the pockets of low-income people provides the most rapid boost to the economy.

Ask yourself, who should the government be looking after, rich sports franchises, or low-income citizens struggling to make it?

It’s an easy answer. Governments must stop subsidizing rich sports teams and use that money to lift people out of poverty.

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Photo credit: flyshades (Flickr) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

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