Professional sports franchise owners, Major League Baseball included, may have to find new avenues to fund new stadiums if a new proposed bill passes.
Three U.S. Representatives, Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA), Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), and Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), introduced a new bill on Tuesday, February 22nd under the name of "No Tax Subsidies for Stadiums Act of 2022" which "would end the tax-exempt status of municipal bonds that are used to finance professional sports stadiums." according to Congresswoman Speier’s website.
This bill gained momentum and was introduced based on the poor response by the NFL during their ongoing investigation into the workplace conditions and allegations of widespread sexual harassment within the Washington Commanders organization. This prompted Congress to investigate the leagues’ handling of their investigation.
The Washington Post referenced the press release stating, "A March 2020 study published in the National Tax Journal estimated that the federal government had lost $4.3 billion in revenue as a result of tax-exempt municipal bonds used for stadium construction since 2000. Co-authors Austin J. Drukker of the University of Arizona and Ted Gayer and Alexander K. Gold of the Brookings Institution based the study on a review of 57 stadiums built since 2000, of which 43 were funded, at least in part, by federal tax revenue in the form of tax-exempt municipal bonds."
Affect on MLB Franchises
Almost half of MLB stadiums (46.6%) were opened before the year 2000 so this bill could have a major impact on all future stadium projects, how they are approached, and how much the owners of franchises are actually willing to spend on stadiums. This will greatly affect the Oakland A’s and Tampa Bay Rays, two organizations that have been attempting to get new stadiums for some time now, and the owners have threatened to either have the city finance their new stadium… or they will find a city that will; a threat that would have little to no leverage if this bill were to pass.
While the passing of this bill would seem like a great move from the fans’ perspective, it would have very large impacts on the fan experience at a ballpark. If you think a professional game is expensive to attend now, imagine how much worse it will get if this bill somehow passes: prices of game day tickets, season ticket packages, parking, concessions, merchandise and more could all skyrocket seemingly overnight and the owners would blame it on having to pay the players, having to cover the costs of their stadium, or some other newfound reason.
All of this hypothetical conversation may most likely be for naught, however. Regular efforts have been made, some as recent as 2019, to change and modify the tax law that created these situations, and all failed.
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