|Hmm ... What's going on here? (U.S. Presswire)|
Bilking the public for tax dollars is nothing new for major professional sports franchises. If a stadium or arena is building built or refurbished, then public monies are, almost without exception, paying for most of what you see. This is the case despite the fact that sports arenas, contrary to claims by team owners and league commissioners and their exposed pocket linings, achieve little or nothing insofar as economic development is concerned. In an ideal world, local leaders would tell these billionaires that they're no longer going to be given corporate welfare, but that world isn't this one.
Still, what the Royals are allegedly doing goes even farther beyond the pale (at least until the ghoulish Jeffrey Loria again redefines the outer boundary of said pale). Kevin Kietzman of 810 WHB in Kansas City, in a nifty bit of enterprise journalism, acquired some documents that provide insight into what the Royals are (allegedly!) doing with the subsidies they received to improve Kauffman Stadium. Spoiler: They're not using much of it to, you know, improve Kauffman Stadium. Kietzman writes:
The Royals have received at least $12.7 million from taxpayers that was approved by the Jackson County Sports Complex Authority as part of the RMMO provision of the team's lease with the county and spent it on full and part time employee salaries, security, cable tv, first aid, utilities, telephones and even payroll taxes. By using the money for payroll taxes, the team literally collected taxpayer money to pay their own taxes.
So the Royals are (allegedly!) using the taxes of others to pay their own taxes. Given sports-franchise owners' long-standing zeal for spending public money, one must wonder whether this is S.O.P.
Until local politicians summon the fortitude to say no to these unprincinpled owners, this kind of thing is going to continue.
Bold idea: Professional sports teams, which are private enterprises, should pay for their own places of business.