In today’s sporting world, it’s not unusual for fans to pay for their home team to stay and play. And yet in a lot of cities, teams hold their loyal (and paying) fans over the coals. I’m sure you’ve heard it time and time again: “If we don’t get a new building; we will move.” Well, today I’m standing up for the fans that pay the way for billionaires to save a buck.
If a city’s fan base is “forced” to spend tax dollars to “save” their team then those people deserve more than ticket prices going up. They deserve more than a last-place finish and without question they deserve compensation. When a new arena, or center or whatever classification you wish to use is built, the fans have no say in how their money gets spent.
Keep in mind that fans are forced to be a lot more frugal with their funds than team owners. Some fans even struggle to make ends meet. The lucky ones find a way to watch their team play in person and in some cases it takes every penny they have saved just to go once a year.
Something about all this is just off. If fans help pay for an arena or entertainment venue, then they should get discounted tickets. But this just isn’t happening. And without the discounts, fans may be forced to choose between going to a game or paying rent. Watching their beloved team in person or reading about it the next morning.
Fans make the sacrifice but get no reward.
The other problem is that the money paid by fans to enhance a city with an arena isn’t a one-time deal. In a time when some cities are going bankrupt and can’t afford basic operating costs, fans may be forced to pay again, and not even for an arena this time.
Take the Detroit Red Wings, for example. Last month, The Week reported that despite the city of Detroit being bankrupt, it’s still getting a new publicly funded arena.
“It’s difficult to tell the residents of the city that this is more important than public safety or street lights,” spokesman for Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer told the Associated Press.
There is a better way to go about this process.
Seattle is set to build an all-new NBA or NHL arena and they will be doing so without the creation of new taxes and over-top the financial requests from fans.
From Seattle PI:“There will be no new taxes because of this,” said Fred Podesta, finance director for the city of Seattle. “There will be new revenues created by the arena.”
So what do we learn from these two examples?
First, Remember that just because an arena is built, does not mean a team will necessarily come. Nor does it mean your team will succeed. Secondly, too often it’s about the corporate engine. It’s about how much money an owner can save and how much money can be pulled out of fans’ pockets.
So owners, take a page out of Seattle’s playbook and don’t always rely on taxpayers to pay for bigger and better arenas. After all, it’s really all about the game. That’s why we’re all here in the first place.”