With all the talk of national anthem protests in the NFL, it’s important to remember just how much money the football league rakes in thanks to patriotic American taxpayers. Here’s a breakdown.
If anyone wants to take a knee during the next NFL game, it ought to be because the league is a corporate welfare queen.
This year, the NFL will earn an estimated $14 billion in annual revenue. And at least a $1 billion of that will come via tax subsidies. These subsidies come in many forms, including kickbacks and tax breaks for stadium construction and upkeep in addition to revenues stacked up in the past thanks to a special exception created by Congress in the 1960s to allow the league to manage some of its business operations under a tax except umbrella.
Back in 2015, amid public outrage that the NFL’s millionaire players and billionaire owners were enjoying big breaks on the backs of American taxpayers, the NFL announced that it would relinquish its tax exempt status because it had become a “distraction” for fans.
Still, the raiding of the taxpayer coffers had long since been done.
The Taxpayer Protection Alliance outlined just how much Americans forked over to the NFL in recent decades, usually at a terrible rate return on investment:
Since 1995, a staggering 29 of the 31 stadiums that house NFL teams received public subsidies for construction, renovation or both. Between 1995 and today, taxpayers have been forced to spend nearly $7 billion subsidizing NFL stadium construction and renovation projects.
The subsidies amount to little more than crass corporate welfare. After all, the handouts for stadium construction and renovation projects amount to money being taken from struggling taxpayers by politicians, then funneled to the billionaire owners of the teams in order to reduce their overhead cost and increase their profits.
While government leaders and team officials argue that publicly subsidized stadiums are justified because the projects encourage economic growth by generating wealth and creating jobs.
In an effort to determine the economic impact of taxpayer-financed NFL stadiums on the people who pay the taxes that fund the construction of most NFL stadiums, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance compared median household income and poverty rates in counties with NFL stadiums before and after tax dollars were used to subsidize the stadiums.
Data revealed that median income decreased and poverty rose substantially in counties with publicly funded NFL stadiums.
If the NFL’s players want to bring attention to injustice via on-field protests, that’s totally fine. But with any luck, they’ll draw serious public attention to the league’s thirst for taxpayer money– money, mind you, that could be better used to train police officers or fund inner-city youth programs.
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