Thursday, September 30, 2004

Subsidizing Multi-millionaires

I recently expressed some realism about the return of major league baseball to D.C.:
...To succeed financially, the new Washington team must draw well from the Maryland and Virginia suburbs. Attendance will be high for a few years, because the closeness of major-league baseball will be a novelty to fans who've had to trek to Baltimore to see the increasingly hapless Orioles. But suburbanites' allegiance to the new Washington team won't survive more than a few losing seasons -- and more than a few seem likely, given the Expos' track record. As the crowds wane, suburbanites will become increasingly reluctant to journey into the city. And, so, the taxpayers of D.C. (and perhaps the taxpayers of the nation) are likely to be stuck with an expensive memento of false civic pride.
Now, here's Michelle Malkin:
By Michelle Malkin · September 30, 2004 11:10 AM

The media cheerleading here in the D.C. area over the Expos deal is nauseating. I have nothing against baseball. I have everything against taxpayer-funded sports statism. (A commendable exception to the media slavering over this government rip-off is the Washington Times, whose scathing editorial today is dead-on.)....
And what did the WashTimes have to say? Among other things, this:
...To finance the $440 million project, the District would issue 30-year bonds. Annual debt-service costs would total more than $40 million. Those annual costs would be financed by $21 million to $24 million from a gross-receipts tax imposed on businesses with more than $3 million in annual revenues; $11 million to $14 million from taxes on tickets and stadium concessions; and $5.5 million in rent payments from the ballclub.

The team's owners will receive all the income from ballpark naming rights, which can be quite substantial. The Redskins, whose stadium was privately financed, will receive more than $200 million over 27 years from Federal Express. It is outrageous for taxpayers to be on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars over the next 30 years while the taxpayer-subsidized owners pocket perhaps hundreds of millions more for the naming rights of a ballpark they received as a gift. Should such a travesty come to pass, it would be the real legacy of Mayor Williams.
And just wait until fans start staying away in droves and the team's owners lobby for better terms. Won't the taxpayers of D.C. be happy then?