As ThinkProgress has reported, several American sports franchises are looking for taxpayer dollars in order to finance new stadiums or renovate existing ones. But the example set by Major League Baseball’s Kansas City Royals should act as a warning to the cities thinking of acceding to those demands.
According to Sports Radio 810 WHB, the Royals ownership has been spending taxpayer money earmarked for stadium renovations on, among other things, employee salaries, cable tv, and telephone bills. Just 9 percent of the money given to the team has actually been used on its stadium.
Adding insult the injury, the owners even paid some of their payroll tax bill with the subsidies meant for stadium improvements, so “the team literally collected taxpayer money to pay their own taxes“:
The Kansas City Royals have requested nearly $17 million of taxpayer money the past five years from the Kauffman Stadium repair and upkeep fund but spent only 9% of the money received on actual repairs and maintenance to the stadium, according to documents obtained by Sports Radio 810 WHB.
The Royals have received at least $12.7 million from taxpayers that was approved by the Jackson County Sports Complex Authority as part of the RMMO provision of the team’s lease with the county and spent it on full and part time employee salaries, security, cable tv, first aid, utilities, telephones and even payroll taxes. By using the money for payroll taxes, the team literally collected taxpayer money to pay their own taxes.
Owners of sports franchises often claim that stadiums are good investments for taxpayers, but the evidence makes the opposite case. As ThinkProgress’ Travis Waldron noted, “the stadiums rarely pay for themselves, leaving local economies engulfed in debt while teams come back asking for even newer stadiums before the current facilities are paid off.”
And the Royals aren’t the only Kansas City team using taxpayer dollars to fund general operations. The Kansas City Chiefs of the National Football League have received $9 million for stadium maintenance and repairs, but have used just 6 percent on the stadium, with the rest going towards management and operations.