Reps. Blumenauer, Meadows, and Beyer Introduce Bicameral, Bipartisan Legislation to End Federal Tax Subsidies for Professional Sports Stadiums

May 3, 2019
Press Release

U.S. Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Mark Meadows (R-NC), and Don Beyer (D-VA) introduced the No Tax Subsidies for Stadiums Act, which disallows the tax-exemption for municipal bonds used to finance professional sports stadiums. This legislation is expected to return hundreds of millions of dollars a year back to American taxpayers. A companion measure to this bill was introduced in the Senate by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and James Lankford (R-OK).

“The last thing billionaire sports franchise owners need is the federal government subsidizing the cost of their stadiums,” said Rep. Blumenauer. “Stadiums rarely produce the economic gains initially promised and drive poor land use decisions. Working families in Oregon and around the country should not see their municipal budgets for critical programs bled dry for wasteful projects. We can do better.”

“With as many ways as Washington, D.C. chooses to spend money frivolously, the last thing we need to be doing is forcing American taxpayers to subsidize billionaire sports owners for stadium projects,” said Rep. Meadows. “This amounts to a textbook area in which we need to allow the private sector to do its own work, significantly taper government involvement, and focus on real problems facing hard working American families across the country.”

“Staggeringly wealthy owners of sports teams shouldn’t need federal support to build their stadiums, and I support this effort to stop it,” said Rep. Beyer. “If they don’t have the cash, they can borrow from the market like any other business. Arguments that stadiums boost job creation have been repeatedly discredited. In a time when there is a debate over whether the country can ‘afford’ investments to improve the quality of education, health care, or infrastructure, or stave off climate change, it is ridiculous to even contemplate such a radical misuse of publicly subsidized bonds.”

“Oklahomans should not be responsible for subsidizing the construction of professional sports stadiums in New York and New Yorkers should not be responsible for subsidizing sports stadiums in Oklahoma,” said Senator Lankford. “Using billions of federal taxpayer dollars to build private stadiums when we have real infrastructure needs in our country is not a good way to prioritize a limited amount of funds. I’m grateful to work with Senator Cory Booker once again to introduce this bill that would eliminate the use of federal tax-exempt bonds for sports stadiums. We need to be responsible with taxpayer dollars. This is an opportunity that we can work across the aisle to address federal government spending.”

“There’s no reason professional sports teams that generate billions of dollars in revenue should benefit from tax-exempt federal financing,” Senator Booker said. “This bill would put an end to this wasteful practice and stop diverting dollars away from other critical local infrastructure projects.”

The Sports Fan Coalition, a grassroots sports fan advocacy organization, said “A decades-old loophole in the US tax code has allowed the wealthiest Americans to extract billions of tax dollars to build elaborate sports stadiums. Sports Fans Coalition has long fought these deals at all levels of government. The No Tax Subsidies for Stadiums Act will end the federal subsidy of sports stadiums so that a tax-paying fan isn't forced to subsidize a team many states away. We commend Senators Booker and Lankford and Representatives Blumenauer, Meadows, Smith and Beyer for standing up for America's sports fans.”

Since 2000, dozens of professional sports stadiums have been constructed or rehabilitated under financing provided by federal tax-exempt municipal bonds, costing taxpayers nearly $4 billion. While professional sports teams promise state and local governments that their stadiums will produce local economic development and job creation, there is no quantifiable evidence that they provide these benefits. Too often, these subsidies also create budgetary constraints that result in offsetting cuts to critical public safety and economic security programs.