Fleecing America: Rein in the NFL
Public stadium subsidies and tax breaks worth about $1 billion annually are just the tip of the iceberg that is the NFL's fleecing of taxpayers.
Excerpting his book “The King of Sports” for The Atlantic, Gregg Easterbrook reminds how the Pittsburgh Steelers benefited from about $260 million in taxpayer funding to build Heinz Field and retire Three Rivers Stadium debt. They're also keeping $75 million for naming rights, plus most game-day revenues.
NFL franchises are for-profit businesses. But the league itself is technically a nonprofit — with an antitrust exemption.
Legislation passed during the 1960s lets the NFL negotiate TV rights, worth $4 billion this year, as a monopoly — and defined “professional football leagues” as nonprofits.
Mr. Easterbrook says this “has saved the NFL uncounted millions in tax obligations, which means that ordinary people must pay higher taxes, public spending must decline, or the national debt must increase to make up for the shortfall.”
What's to be done? Easterbrook urges revoking that nonprofit status and ending NFL owners' practice of “creating game images in publicly funded stadiums, broadcasting the images over public airwaves, and then keeping all the money they receive as a result.”
That would require Congress, as well as municipal and state officials, to correct priorities long out of order. But as Easterbrook also reminds, “Public handouts for modern professional football never end and are never repaid.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.