NFL team owners, all of whom are very, very wealthy engage in extortion to get taxpayers to pay part of the costs of their football stadium or for infrastructure improvements necessary to make the stadiums usable. This is despite the fact that NFL operations create very little employment and the stadiums are used, maybe 10 to 15 days a year and the fact that ticket prices make games out of reach for the very taxpayers who ponied up the money.
Now San Diego has let its football team leave rather than pay hundreds of millions for a new stadium.
Nice going San Diegans, you are smart people. Not like the people of Atlanta, where it seems a new stadium of some sort gets built every couple of decades despite the fact that it is not needed. Case in point is the city's new football stadium, smack in the middle of one of the most impoverished areas in the south.
"The view through the windows at the other end of the building tells a very different story, one that many fans go out of their way to avoid: English Avenue and Vine City, two of the poorest neighborhoods in the Southeastern United States. Home to drug dealers, swaths of empty plots and abandoned houses, they are part of the Westside, where 42 percent of the households are in poverty and the unemployment rate is twice that of the rest of Fulton County.
The stadium’s place in that chasm between rich and poor is an uncomfortable reminder of the disconnect between the vast wealth of the N.F.L. and the cities to which they extend open palms. Immensely wealthy team owners, backed by a $13 billion-a-year league, routinely push local lawmakers to provide hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies that, they claim, will pay for themselves through the creation of new jobs, new tax revenue and the intangible prestige of professional sports (the new stadium will host the Super Bowl in 2019.)"
But what's the real story on those benefits?
|Arthur Blank, a co-founder of Home Depot and owner of the Atlanta Falcons. His family’s foundation has donated $20 million for community improvements near the Falcons’ new stadium.Kevin D. Liles for The New York Times|
Yeah, invest $20 million, get $200 million from taxpayers. What a deal for the city!
"The Falcons have been no different, getting a minimum of $200 million in hotel-motel taxes out of the city for the construction of the stadium, and potentially hundreds of millions more for its upkeep.
But rarely does such public investment do much good for the areas around these mammoth stadiums. Such venues effectively blot out a part of the neighborhood when not in use, reducing foot traffic and fraying the fabric of the community. Even when stadiums do draw big crowds, ticket holders spend little of their money at local businesses."
And where is the political leadership? Oh, sitting in luxury boxes oblivious to the pain and suffering around them.