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Peter’s Take: No Virginia Tax Dollars For New Redskins Stadium

Peter RousselotPeter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

A close Redskins watcher says Virginia is the most likely site for a new Redskins stadium because team President Bruce Allen has “significant personal ties at the highest levels of the Virginia government,” and the amount of public financing for a new stadium will be the “single most important factor” in site selection.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is “vigorously pursuing” the stadium. On July 27, McAulliffe renewed his lobbying of Redskins owner Dan Snyder:

“We’ve laid everything out and served it up beautifully,” McAuliffe said …. McAuliffe pivoted to the latest method of financing massive NFL projects in which a stadium is part of a vast retail, shopping and hotel complex, by relying on development funds (in addition to considerable tax breaks) to foot the bill….

Football stadiums do not spur significant economic growth

The evidence is overwhelming that subsidizing the construction of a new Redskins stadium will never be in the best interests of Virginia taxpayers:

Roger Noll, an economist who studies sports-stadium subsidies at Stanford University, says he has never witnessed the construction of a football stadium that has had a significant positive impact on the local economy.

Direct costs far outweigh the benefits

A very extensive study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City found that a typical stadium costs taxpayers more than four times more than any long-term benefits from jobs and tax revenues:

Proponents of using public funds to finance stadium construction argue that the benefits from increased economic activity and increased tax revenue collection exceed the public outlays. But independent economic studies universally find such benefits to be much smaller than claimed.

Opportunity costs further tilt the balance against taxpayer funding

The costs of a new Virginia stadium for the Redskins are even higher when you factor in the opportunity costs. Virginia tax dollars spent on such a stadium are tax dollars that could have been spent to:

  • fund Virginia’s state share of a new dedicated funding stream for Metro
  • redress some of the many remaining critical deficiencies in Virginia’s mental health facilities
  • help bring high-speed broadband to rural areas of Virginia that currently lack it
  • expand Virginia’s Medicaid program

These are only four of hundreds of more deserving needs.

Dan Snyder doesn’t need the money

Redskins owner Dan Snyder is a billionaire who doesn’t need a public hand out. Any Virginia tax dollars for a new Redskins stadium will go directly into Dan Snyder’s pockets.

A 2003 study by a member of the University of Texas economics department documented that a new stadium increases:

  • team profits by an average of $13 million annually
  • payroll salaries by $14 million annually
  • team book value by $90 million

All these numbers are likely to be much higher in 2017.

Conclusion

I admire McAuliffe for his tireless work to promote economic development in Virginia. But, Virginia should not offer to give Dan Snyder either “development funds” or “considerable tax breaks.”

Nothing related to the stadium should be subsidized by Virginia taxpayers. Dan Snyder should arrange 100% private financing. Under these conditions, Snyder could build his stadium in Virginia if he could find a welcoming local government.

Seattle Seahawks all-star cornerback Richard Sherman gets it: “I’d stop spending billions of taxpayer dollars on stadiums…and maybe make the billionaires who actually benefit from the stadiums pay for them.”

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