Oligarchs abuse everyday Americans in so many facets of our lives — from censoring the social media posts of citizens, to requiring that employees inject an experimental vaccine treatment just to keep their job — and now, they are extorting taxpayers while maligning devoted sports fans.
The Buffalo Bills want the hard-working taxpayers of New York to provide 100 percent of funding for a new stadium for the NFL squad. Otherwise, the team threatens, at least tacitly, to move the team to Austin, Texas, per ESPN reporting.
The Bills enjoy the adoration of one of the most dedicated fan bases in all of sports.
Like Green Bay, Buffalo is not a major market, but still boasts a storied pro football franchise, which benefits from fervent support in western New York. So fervent, in fact, that Bills devotees regularly smash folding tables as a sign of allegiance.
But owner Terry Pegula, like so many moguls of Big Sports, would exploit that affection in pursuit of selfish subsidies funded by working-class citizens.
In reality, such cronyism represents the worst kind of transfer payment, from regular citizens to the very top earners in American society. These deals reallocate capital from blue collar laborers to players and agents who earn 7-figure salaries, and to billionaire owners.
Bills owner Pegula made his fortune in energy, selling his fracking outfit to Royal Dutch Shell in 2010 for $4.7 billion. Today, he’s worth over $7 billion, according to Bloomberg News.
His success story in business is truly inspiring. It’s a shame he squanders that legacy by abusing taxpayers and fans.
Unfortunately, this Buffalo scenario is hardly unique, as leagues and owners have fleeced taxpayers all over America, and for huge money. The NFL and other sports leagues try to rationalize this welfare to moguls through economic investment arguments.
But a detailed 15-year study by George Mason University economists debunked those claims. They determined that ''little or none of the money makes its way back to the taxpayers who subsidize professional sports teams.''
Despite this poor return on investment, the taxpayers’ dollars flow mightily to the moguls.
Consider the Minnesota Vikings' U.S. Bank Stadium which opened five years ago and cost taxpayers there over $500 million despite the reported $5.3 billion wealth of team owner Zygi Wilf. Adding to that insult, Minnesota government officials who approved that deal received free tickets and food to all future games there.
Las Vegas also put up $500 million in taxpayer funds to lure the Raiders away from Oakland, again.
The 49ers fleeced taxpayers for $621 million for its new Levi’s Stadium. In total, according to Watchdog.org, the NFL has expropriated over $7 billion in taxpayer subsidies, mainly for stadiums since the year 2000.
In addition, because these boondoggle projects typically utilize bonds sold as municipal projects, they evade federal taxation, costing the federal Treasury $3.7 billion during the same period, according to the Brookings Institution.
The abusive exploitation of taxpayers by Big Sports embodies a larger truth of America and our economy. Powerful ruling class interests use their influence to collect massive subsidies from taxpayers.
Simultaneously, these rent-seeking oligarchs create massive barriers to competition, protecting their dominant market positions.
On this point, the NFL enjoys antitrust exemptions courtesy of the federal government, allowing the league to operate as a legally sanctioned cartel. Given this reality, we citizens have leverage over these leagues if we simply pressure politicians to intervene. For starters, tell these leagues that they will not extort localities and they will not move teams without permission, period.
It is high time to end the abuse of taxpayers by Big Sports.
Let’s start by protecting the devoted ''Bills Mafia'' fans and keeping the team in Buffalo with an appropriately privately financed stadium.
Steve Cortes, a former Trump presidential advisor, commentator, and financial expert, co-hosts "Cortes & Pellegrino" on Newsmax.
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