Yeah, it’s not Rob Gronkowski crushing beers or numerous NFL players starting the offseason in grand fashion. However, some news out of Washington today could have a larger impact on how the NFL does business. According to Think Progress, President Obama’s latest budget proposal includes seeking to eliminate tax exemptions for bonds used to fund public stadiums primarily used for private interests.
Currently, most of these projects that have built the NFL stadiums around the country in the last few decades have relied on subsidies from the federal government on the bonds, saving them the cost of interest on the loans.
So basically, the NFL ‘s business model, wherein they make billions while getting local taxpayers to fund the stadiums they control, could be under attack. As the article notes, it’s not likely to happen right away (the budget proposal would have to be approved). It’s also an issue that will continue to grow. Politically, Republicans who theoretically favor limited government involvement would be most opposed to use of public funds for sports owners.
Between 1986 and 2012, sports facilities commanded at least $17 billion in tax-exempt bond debt; by the time the existing debt is paid off nearly 30 years from now, the exemption Obama wants repealed will have cost federal taxpayers roughly $4 billion, according to a 2012 Bloomberg analysis.
The story also says that 21 of the NFL stadiums have been funded with tax-free bonds, and that repealing the tax-free bonds would save the federal government $542 million over the next decade.