Cities and states have seen their budgets decimated during the Great Recession, as revenue plunged due to dropping home prices and high unemployment. They had to make some desperate choices to save funds, including laying off scores of public safety workers (or even turning off their streetlights).
Oakland was no different, laying off 200 police officers, despite the city having the fifth-highest crime rate in the country. However, the city chose to fire those officers while preserving a $17 million payment to the National Football League’s Oakland Raiders and Major League Baseball’s Oakland Athletics:
Oakland, California, the fifth-most crime ridden city in America, faced a $32 million budget deficit last year. It closed the gap by dismissing a fourth of its police force, more than 200 officers.
Untouched was the $17.3 million that the city pays to stage 10 games a season for the National Football League’s Oakland Raiders and to host Major League Baseball’s Athletics in the O.co Coliseum. The funds cover debt financing and operations and are supplemented by $13.3 million from surrounding Alameda County, based on data compiled by Bloomberg from public records.
Nearly every single NFL stadium was built with public money or benefits from public infrastructure built specifically nearby. This money, as many studies have shown, does not provide much economic benefit to the surrounding community. It merely lines the pockets of the already wealthy owners of professional sports franchises.
Adding insult to injury, the National Footbal League itself is a non-profit entity, like other pro sports leagues. The federal government loses about $91 million in revenue due to sports leagues not having to pay taxes.