The new Cowboys Stadium is a $650 million project, half of which is to be financed by increases in sales taxes and taxes on hotels and rental cars. Jones has a personal net worth, according to Fortune magazine, in the neighborhood of $1 billion. The players earn millions in salaries. Why are taxpayers financing this?
Sales taxes are regressive taxes that hit low-income groups proportionally harder than higher-income groups. It's no wonder that Doug Bandow, a senior fellow of the Cato Institute in Washington, writes: "Stadium advocates have been amazingly successful in taking from the poor and giving to the rich."
In a paper called "Sports Pork: The Costly Relationship between Major League Sports and Government," Raymond Keating, chief economist of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, points out that of $20 billion spent in the 20th century on stadiums, $14.7 billion came from government subsidies.
Regarding claims that sports teams generate a net positive impact on local economies, Keating reports "the results of studies on changes in the economy resulting from the presence of stadiums, arenas and sports teams show no positive economic impact." Basically, revenue going to the sports team is simply revenue transferred from other local uses. Families, for example, simply transfer spending from other forms of entertainment.
Arguably, the local pastor negotiating with Jones is like sending the local high-school team on the field against the Cowboys. But, quite frankly, the fact that Jones could convince a community to fork over $320 million in taxes to finance his business shows that his salesmanship goes well beyond pulling the wool over a pastor's eyes.
Stadium deals such as this tap into a certain community naivete about what is in its interest. I'd suggest that Jones would be no worse off to simply step over the line and satisfy the local community's requests. There can only be a pretense of business here. And a little good will in America cannot hurt anyone and would probably make us all a lot better off.
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