Oligarchy in the NFL: Owners, their outsourced stadiums and our burden

Unless you watch John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, you probably haven’t heard of Hamilton County. Located in the southwest corner of Ohio (aka: the flyover state Lebron James has popularized), the populace of under 1 million folks will be enduring the burden of a half-billion dollar stadium construction that the local governments approved back in 1996. Voters, 14% of whom live below the poverty line, allowed for a 0.5% sales tax increase to pay for schools, increase property tax rebates, and…ahem, to pay for the construction and continuous improvement of sports stadiums, including any hi-tech bells & whistles that have yet to be invented.

This highlights a scary trend in professional sports organizations, where the billionaire owners of the teams can essentially collude (legally?) to threaten increased ticket prices or even franchise relocations in order to secure funding from taxpayers to keep their stadiums state of art. And while we taxpayers get the luxury of massive jumbotron televisions or holographic replay machines, owners reap the rewards of rising revenues and profits. Note, if you just read the sentence including ‘holographic replay machine’ and are wondering which team has it – stop wondering. Nobody does, but rest assured, Mike Brown and his Cincinnati Bengals were promised by the voters of Hamilton County to install it as soon as the technology becomes attainable.

If you need proof that the effects of this deal have already strangled the county and it’s residents, note the sale of the Drake Center, a local hospital that was valued at $30 million dollars in 2006 but sold for just $15 million in 2012 in order to bridge the fiscal gap.

Cincinnati isn’t the only city scouring it’s public funds to keep their franchises in town. Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Phoenix and others have all endured fiscal measures to handcuff themselves to the terms of the billionaire owners and their lucrative franchises. Sooner or later the strike will need to happen.

Here is the video clip of Last Week Tonight that covers the irresponsible construction of sports stadiums:

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