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
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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