Wednesday December 6, 2023

Legislators Seek to End Sports Stadium Tax Breaks

  • Since 2000, municipal bonds for stadiums resulted in about $4.3 billion in lost federal tax revenue.
  • Bill co-author Jackie Speier also looks to reexamine NFL's antitrust exemption.
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The Washington Commanders were fined $10 million in July, but the continued fallout of the latest toxic workplace claims could end up costing owners in major U.S. sports much more. 

Three Democratic members of Congress co-authored a bill that would alter the tax code to prevent the tax-exempt status of municipal bonds used to finance professional sports stadiums that have cost taxpayers billions of dollars over the last two decades. 

A study published in the National Tax Journal in March 2020 detailed the tax implications of sports venue projects since 2000. 

  • In total, tax-exempt municipal bonds led to an estimated $4.3 billion in lost federal tax revenue. 
  • Of the 57 stadiums studied, 43 built since 2000 were at least partially funded by tax-exempt municipal bonds. 
  • About $16.7 billion of tax-exempt bonds were issued to fund new venues. 

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) said when the “No Tax Subsidies for Stadiums Act of 2022” was introduced on Tuesday that “there is no reason” for taxpayers to subsidize stadiums. 

Speier also cited the sexual harassment and abuse claims made against the Commanders as a reason the tax code should be changed.

More Federal Scrutiny 

Speier told Front Office Sports that she’s pushing for a reexamination for the limited antitrust exemption that the NFL has had since the Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961.

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