Friday, January 29, 2016

Bucs Continue to Make Traveshamockery of Florida's Stadium Subsidy Qualifications

UPDATE: For as low as the state sets the bar on qualifying for subsidies, the Bucs' incomplete application still wasn't enough, as it was rejected. The team said it wasn't far enough along in the renovation process yet and it will re-apply next year. 

Any regular reader of this blog knows the ridiculousness of Florida's 2014 stadium subsidy law, pitched as a way to vet pro teams' and leagues' requests for tax dollars...but really doing nothing of the sort, just expanding the number of teams eligible for the handouts and number of tax dollars available.

I also documented how the incentives handouts really don't incentivize a heckuva lot since the legislature denied all four applicants last year...and all four projects moved forward anyway.

Adding insult to injury, the legislation was written in a way where applicants like Daytona Int'l Speedway & the Miami Dolphins are exempt from the loosely-written requirements that teams prove their projects will increase economic impact.  So in those cases, the legislation actually incentivizes teams to reduce how many people can come to the game, in favor of more expensive tickets.

Well, as the Bucs become the latest team to ask for state stadium subsidy dollars, we again see what a traveshamockery the requirements really are.

The Bucs submitted a supplement to their ridiculous one-line original subsidy application earlier this month, only needing to show how many tax dollars they paid to the state in each of the last three years.  The number was redacted since tax figures are often exempt from Florida's broad public records laws.  But the team did not have to submit any projected revenue forecast to show what the state's cash would actually help them accomplish...or pretty much anything else, for that matter.

In fact, because the law was intentionally written in a way to make it easy for pro teams and leagues to tap that taxpayer cash, the Bucs will only need to surpass a baseline of $2 million/yr in taxes paid to qualify for additional incentives.  The state already forgives the first $2 million/yr the Bucs owe in taxes, as part of its old stadium subsidy program.

And since the Bucs bring in an estimated $4M-$5M in tax just on ticket sales alone (if you believe Forbes), they should have no problem meeting the ridiculously-low threshold.

So even if the Bucs ripped out seats, drew fewer out-of-towners to Raymond James Stadium, struggled to sell tickets, and conceivably saw a drop in future taxable revenue...they'd still be eligible for state economic development incentives.

Oh, and they'd get additional breaks - paid for by Florida taxpayers - since their contract with the Tampa Sports Authority requires the county to act as a pass-through on many of the construction costs so the team doesn't have to pay 7% tax on them, like everyone else would if we took up a renovation project.

Fortunately, the legislature still has to sign off on any state subsidy deal.  But just remember, Florida's stadium subsidy incentive program doesn't really incentivize anything at all - except maybe political contributions.

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  1. "drew fewer out-of-towners" isn't a factual statement...
    Yah but, isn't the state's "Stadium Subsidy" basically just a tax reduction? They pay taxes, and the state gives (part of) it back when they invest it into their stadium's improvements to draw more people, like the money spent on RJS in prep. for the NCAA Championship.
    I'm not an "economist" like you pretend to be, but when we get 200k spending (at least) $300, that's $60 million into our economy...
    NEWSFLASH!, hosting the game is WHY & HOW they got part of the money, the rest will get pumped into Tampa when 100k's of people come (only) for the game...
    Also, don't forget, the value of the stadiums will increase along w/ the real estate values of everything around them. Ask Ferg how much his business is worth w/ & w/out the Trop! #duh
    I mean, it's dumb to think a "red" state w/ a republican Gov. would just give cities money for stadiums for nothing w/out doing their homework...
    "Com'on man" let's not be "naive"...

    1. If teams claim they create this huge local benefit by drawing out-of-staters into their cities, then reducing seats is basically reducing the economic impact they claim.

      And yes, the state's subsidy is a tax refund, but wouldn't you love to get your first $29M of income tax-free every year? When we don't give that incentive to other businesses, it's a straight hand-out.

      And yes, you're not an economist - your math is atrocious.

    2. Oh, and you're calling me naïve when you assume politicians would never choose friends and wealthy contributors over what's best for taxpayers??? :)

    3. I wasn't calling you "naive", I was simply saying it's naive to think Tallahassee didn't do their homework to their advantage...
      And, I'm guessing you haven't researched the science behind "reducing the # of seats", but it's to create nicer spaces for the new age fans, not less fans, and add higher quality for bigger spending fans...
      And last, hosting our country's biggest sporting events draws more money then we know...

    4. The more "new age" local fans at a game and the fewer "old school" traveling fans, the less economic impact.

      I have to believe fans willing to travel the country to see a game aren't the ones who need hi-def everything and Wi-Fi everywhere to come to a game. That's local fans more.

    5. ? Be careful to not show your "not-really-a-sports-fan" card. The "new age" fans are traveling more today, but when they do they want to spend more for a better experience, which doesn't mean just a more comfortable seat, it means party decks & cabanas...
      Newsflash, teams do studies on what fans want before they build!
      Get with the times, and I'm not talking about TBT, lol...

  2. I see your brother is a CBS celebrity too?! lol

  3. I hope whoever makes the decision on whether or not to give the Bucs state money factors into the equation that the Bucs will receive a $17 million windfall because the Rams just moved to LA. And if the Chargers and/or Raiders relocate, that will be another one or two $17 million gifts. What are the Glazers going to do with all that additional money that they don't need?