Football fans are more divided more than ever before. The National Anthem protests dominate the media and public dialogue. Jemele Hill's suspension proves that private companies can no longer stay out of controversial topics. Sports no longer functions as the great American unifier.
But a related issue still unites most fans: public financing of sports stadiums. More and more fans oppose it today.
Sports fans across the political spectrum have had enough of team owners holding cities hostage during stadium negotiations. Most recently, after Oakland refused to hand out public money, Raiders owner Mark Davis abandoned the fans, moved to Las Vegas, and took $750 million in Nevada tax dollars. Until now, those of us committed to ending this wasteful spending felt like a pop-warner team going up against the Patriots.
But our pop-warner team just entered the big leagues with some new MVPs. Senators Cory Booker, D-N.J., and James Lankford, R-Okla., alongside Representatives Steve Russell, R-Okla., Mark Meadows, R-N.C., and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., are leading an effort in Congress to stop the federal subsidization of professional sports stadiums.
This bipartisan crew's proposals -- the Eliminating Federal Tax Subsidies for Sports Stadiums Act and the No Tax Subsidies for Stadiums Act, would close the 1986 loophole that team owners have exploited to rake in billions of tax dollars over the last few decades with no return to the fan.
Since 1986, team owners skirted the "private business use test" which made income for sports stadium construction tax exempt. By amending the Internal Revenue Code, the legislation will classify professional sports stadiums as "private activity bonds"; making income from state and local governments for sports stadiums taxable. Even if it doesn't completely disincentivize local stadium subsidies, this will at least take the federal taxpayer off the hook.
Nobody can explain why a Packers fan should subsidize the Bears' Soldier Field, let alone why a rancher in Montana should subsidize a stadium in Las Vegas. These two bills may seem like a Hail Mary, but they are the best play we've had in decades.
We still need the fans' help; call and write your congressmen and senators and tell them to support these bills. Click here and demand action.
Brian Hess is the Executive Director of Sports Fans Coalition, a nonprofit fan-advocacy group. He is a DC sports fans and is currently biting his nails about the National's playoff run.
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