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Call Your MoCs and Support S. 1342, the Eliminating Federal Tax Subsidies for Stadiums Act

This OTYCD entry originally posted in September 2017.


Support S. 1342, the Eliminating Federal Tax Subsidies for Stadiums Act, which would do just that–close a loophole that unwittingly encourages the use of tax dollars to fund sports stadium construction.


An article on GovTrack Insider alerted us to this and oh yes, we were all over it. The bill was introduced on June 12. It has a house counterpart in the form of H.R. 811, the No Tax Subsidies for Stadiums Act.


We’re going to quote the ‘Context’ section of the story because it’s a case study in unintended consequences:


“It all stems from a provision in a 1986 tax reform bill, which accidentally created a loophole which allowed tax avoidance for many bonds used to finance sports stadiums.


The provision stated that such bonds could be tax-exempt if they were used for more than 90 percent of a stadium’s construction, under the logic that this would almost never happen. After all, most sports teams were owned by billionaires or multi-millionaires who would help front much of the costs.


However, the opposite happened, as taxpayers started paying for way more of stadium costs than they had before. In the 21st century, that taxpayer money has included $431 million towards Yankee Stadium, $205 million for the Chicago Bears, $185 million for the New York Mets, and $164 million for the Cincinnati Bengals.”


Talk about perverse incentives, right? Though passing this bill might feel like closing the barn door after team after team of horses have escaped, and GovTrack admits the odds are long even though the bill should get serious public support, it’s worth the fight.


A note before giving the sample script: First off, if New Jersey Democrat Cory Booker is your senator, and if Oklahoma Republican Steve Russell is your House rep, call and thank them for sponsoring these bills.


Now, the sample script: “Dear (Senator/House Rep Lastname,) I am (Firstname Lastname, of town, zip code). I am calling to ask you to support (S. 1342/ H.R. 811), which would close a loophole that perversely encourages using tax dollars to fund sports stadium construction. Sports team owners are wealthy–some are billionaires. They can, and should, pay to build or improve their own stadiums. The law, as currently written, encourages team owners to chase precious tax dollars that should go to municipal and state needs instead of wants. The bills moving through Congress now will take away that perverse incentive.”



Read the GovTrack story on the bills that close the stadium funding loophole:



Read a Brookings Institution story on why the government should stop funding sports stadiums:



See the GovTrack page on S. 1342, the Eliminating Federal Tax Subsidies for Stadium Act of 2017:



See the GovTrack page on H.R. 811, the No Tax Subsidies for Stadiums Act:



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