Monday, February 1, 2016

Bucs Fail to Pretend to Prove ROI on State Tax Dollars; Don't Get Any

Last week, I wrote how the Bucs' application for more state stadium dollars failed at its one job: create lofty estimates of how much return on investment taxpayers will get if they give pro teams millions of dollars for projects that are already underway.

Well, Florida's Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) released its rankings of the four applicants today, and the three teams that made lofty claims were passed along to the legislature for possible funding; the application from the other team, the Bucs, was denied on the basis that it was incomplete.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, and Daytona International Speedway were each seeking between $1 million and $3 million a year for stadium renovation projects that are already underway. The legislature will get final say on the awarding of any incentives this year.

The Jaguars, Dolphins, and speedway projects all failed to secure subsidies last year, but have returned again in 2016 with similar applications promising new jobs, new income for the state, and countless other ways taxpayers would benefit by spending money on pro sports.  Even when it means removing seats and jacking up the price of tickets.

The Buccaneers' application for $12 million toward Raymond James Stadium renovations - as WTSP and Shadow of the Stadium first reported in October - was the only new application this year.
All three of the state's NFL teams already receive $2 million per year in state subsidies, but a controversial new law passed in 2014 expanded the state's stadium incentive program to include more money for more teams. WTSP previously exposed the poor return-on-investment taxpayers gets from the incentives, prompting many state legislators to reject all requests last year.
However, the 2016 rankings of the projects from the DEO - under control of Governor Scott - were drastically different than the state economist's ranking last year, estimating the Dolphins' return on investment to taxpayers at $2.22 per dollar spent; Daytona's at $1.25 per dollar, and Jacksonville's at 91 cents per dollar.  Of course, those estimates were based on data provided by the applicants.
The Bucs tell me they'll re-apply next year for the incentives, as "certain required documents" were not yet available in time for this year's rankings.
The Buccaneers' 2016 application lacked documentation on how its new construction project will increase jobs and taxable sales.  But the team has called its now-underway Raymond James Stadium renovation plans a "win-win" for both the team and taxpayers.  The county will pay $29 million of the planned stadium overhaul, which is expected to cost between $78 million and $100 million overall.
Hillsborough County owns Raymond James Stadium, but the Bucs receive nearly every penny of profit generated there, including most profits from non-football events. New subsidies - which the Bucs could re-apply for next year - could give the Bucs a million dollars per year in new tax rebates, until the end of their lease in 2027. The money would help reduce the team's financial commitment to the renovations.
The Orlando City Soccer Club was the only other team to have requested state money under the new incentive program, but the team withdrew its application before the end of 2015's legislative session and self-funded its new stadium project.  It did not re-apply this year.

Conservative political group Americans for Prosperity (AFP) lobbied against the stadium subsidies in the 2015 legislative session and plans on doing so again in 2016.

"Taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars shouldn't go to profit-seeking billionaire sports team owners that already get fed at the ticket office, concession stands, and NFL revenue sharing trough," AFP spokesperson Andres Malave told 10News in November. "AFP will continue to work with taxpayers and volunteers to hold elected officials accountable."

AFP is also supporting a longshot effort in the legislature to ban pro teams from building or renovating stadiums on public property (HB1427), but a hearing on the bill was scarpped during a House committee meeting Monday and isn't expected to get much traction.

FOLLOW: Shadow of the Stadium on Twitter
FOLLOW: Shadow of the Stadium on Facebook


  1. Since Hillsborough County owns RayJay, would not the request for state money have had to be a joint request from the Bucs and Hillsborough County?

  2. One of the easiest scams in America: