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The True Price of Sports

As the football season winds down, the New York Jets and Giants will not be playing in the post season. The fans will not get to enjoy their teams at the Met Life Stadium where both teams call home.

Met LifeIn 2010, with much fanfare, the fans were upgraded with a new facility that cost around 1.6 billion to build. It seems like an enormous amount of money for two teams that will play a total of 16 games a year.

Most stadiums are built with the hopes that the stadium will attract store, shops and vendors that will enhance that area. But ask anybody who has been to East Rutherford New Jersey and they will tell you that the stadium sits in the middle of nowhere on a highway with no other attractions nearby. In addition, given the sheer size of the stadium, its unlikely to be used for anything other than football.

What makes the building of this facility even more interesting is that the old stadium (Giants Stadium) still has an outstanding loan balance of $100 million. It was built in 1976 and no longer exists; yet the taxpayers of New Jersey are still on the hook for the outstanding loan balance.  With the stadium gone, there is simply no way to generate the revenue necessary to pay off the loan… which is why so the full weight of the debt falls on the unsuspecting citizens of New Jersey.

This fiasco is not an anomaly. Harris County, Texas still owes about $32 million in debt on the Houston Astrodome which opened in 1965. In fact, the nation is littered with stadiums that no longer exist but have outstanding loans needing to be paid off and its the taxpayers who unknowingly step up to do so.

Politicians and fans alike think of these sport franchises as their “beloved teams”… not fully appreciating that the owners view them  as a business. They are there to make money.  The Jets and the Giants have huge TV contracts that pay huge amounts of money. They’re making money while the taxpayers foot the bill.

Bottom line: There was nothing  wrong with the old Giants Stadium other than it did not generate enough luxury revenue. So New Jersey, which has around $30 billion in debt, gave up about $15 million in annual tax revenue so that the Giants and Jets could be more profitable.

The old Giants Stadium cost $78 million… yet the outstanding debt more than 30 years later is $110 million. How is this possible? Instead of paying back the debt as revenues were generated, funds were diverted to other projects. The politicians simply could not believe that the owners would ever tear it down. Then, as the owners and politicians of old moved on, the taxpayers of New Jersey get to pay off the old debt and pay higher prices of the new tickets.

While unsuspecting fans enjoy their teams at play, they fail to realize the burden far outweighs the benefit… and the scam just keeps on keepin’ on.

Where is the accountability and the outrage?

Steve

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