Many major sports stadiums are at least funded in part by taxpayer money. In addition to providing the public with a space to watch their local teams, many of these deals are made with the presumption that these sports venues stir economic activity.
A new group formed in Cincinnati, however, isn’t buying it.
Cincinnati.com reports that an anti-tax group calling itself No More Stadium Taxes has formed in an effort to stem the flow of public money to stadiums and stadium improvements. Specifically, they’re hoping to gin up opposition to a new downtown arena, a soccer stadium and improvements to the existing Cincinnati Bengals stadium before any of those projects can gain traction.
“Stadiums are a rip-off of the taxpayers,” Jeff Capell, the group’s co-founder, told Cincinnati.com.
Hamilton County has already been tapped for public stadium support to the tune of nearly $1 billion through a county sales tax. That money has gone to support stadiums for the NFL’s Bengals and MLB’s Reds. However, revenues have been lower than expectations, and the county budget has been strained as a result.
“The last thing the county needs right now is to take on another burden that is so narrowly focused when there are so many needs in the county that just can’t be met,” attorney Tim Mara, another co-founder, told WVXU. “This, I think, is a rather low priority and should not be supported by the county commissioners or any other government entity.”
The new group has registered as an “issues committee” with the Board of Elections, meaning that it can solicit donations to support its anti-stadium tax activities.
There are currently no proposals under consideration to support new stadium projects, but the group means to posture itself against any proposal that may come.
“The lesson to be learned is opponents must start early,” Mara said. “The cost to taxpayers has been tremendous.”