Atlanta Sports Council Proposes $10 Million Super Bowl Exemption

To win the Super Bowl in 2019 or 2020, the Atlanta Sports Council wants Georgia taxpayers to forego $10-12 million in sales tax from ticket sales.

The lobbying group, which has the backing of the Governor’s office and Mayor Kasim Reed, hopes to file a bill which will allow the state to waive sales tax for high-profile sports events. Presumably, this power would reside in the hands of the state economic development commissioner and the Revenue Department.

While we’re at it, let’s provide sales tax exemptions for all large, rotating sports events, like the 2018 college football national championship and 2020 NCAA Men’s Final Four. Atlanta’s bid to host the 2018 football game already promised three million in sales tax reimbursements, with or without the approval of the state legislature or city council.

The NFL requires tax-free tickets to any city awarded (!) the Super Bowl. Other freebies include 30% off in-stadium catering for box seats, a free bowling alley (?), and no-cost snow removal. Thankfully, Atlanta specializes in the last one.

Dan Corso of the Atlanta Sports Council forecasts the Super Bowl would bring in $400 million of economic activity, which would generate $30 million in sales tax.

Familiar discontents from the left and right have opposed the implicit subsidy. Senator Vincent Fort: “It’s corporate welfare at its most cavalier. Enough is enough. It just doesn’t make sense.” Tying it to last year’s transportation bill, Senator Josh McKoon said “it is unthinkable that Republicans would give away tens of millions of dollars to moneyed special interests.”

Taxpayers routinely finance new facilities for billionaire sports franchise owners. This particular system of public risk and private profit is a familiar hobbyhorse and embarrassment. Deep in your bones, you already knew John Oliver had a 20 minute lecture at the ready.

But in this instance, not a dime is at stake. There is no doubt that Georgia will receive $0 in Super Bowl sales tax in 2019 and 2020. We’ll either have one, which requires supplicating to the NFL shield, or we won’t.

There are lots of good arguments about the immorality of a $300 million bond to replace a perfectly good stadium or the market distortions of exempting sales tax on new construction materials for the same. Think tanks will spend eternity debating if Super Bowls double tax revenue or crowd out other tourists.

Clearly the Super Bowl increases tax revenue; whether it offsets associated costs likely depends on the size and circumstances of the city in question. It’s a better investment for New Orleans than Glendale— which would you rather visit?  Regardless, the $300 million bond, the missed sales tax revenue, and the grotesque public accommodations are a sunk cost.

Above all: why does the public allow this to continue? Perhaps, in the most important accounting, citizens care more about sports than good government.

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Andrew C. Pope
Andrew C. Pope

I was told the new stadium was going to bring us untold fortune. Now you’re telling me that we’re giving money away? The NFL wanted San Francisco to remove the overhead wires which power the city’s MUNI busses because the wires would be “unsightly.” Not only would taking the wires down cost millions, it would screw up city bus service for before AND after the Super Bowl. So, the city told the NFL to shove off. San Diego and Oakland both responded to the NFL’s “waah give us money to build a stadium or we’ll move to LA ruse” with… Read more »

Bart
Bart

While I’m definitely not going to be the NFL defender, at least we need to be factually accurate. San Francisco and the NFL mutually decided not to take down the muni wires as reported at sfgate.com. They changed the plan to accommodate the muni wires. The Raiders are not necessarily staying in the bay area. They were offered money by the NFL as a consolation prize to build a stadium, but not near enough. It is still a fluid situation. I’m so sick of hearing how the NFL is responsible for grown men banging heads thus causing concussions. Players have… Read more »

Andrew C. Pope
Andrew C. Pope

Re: Breast Cancer Awareness 1. https://sports.vice.com/en_us/article/the-nfls-pink-october-does-not-raise-money-for-cancer-research “In fact, the NFL’s claim of 100 percent proceeds from auction and 100 percent proceeds from retail has translated to an average of just $1.1 million every year since they partnered with ACS six years ago. That’s less than .01 percent of the approximately $10 billion the league made in revenue last year. And almost five times less than what ACS’ other partners, such as Walgreens, manage to donate to the same program—a program that, again, gives zero dollars to cancer research.” 2. http://www.si.com/thecauldron/2015/10/26/nfl-breast-cancer-month-deangelo-williams “In other words, for every $100 in pink merchandise sold,… Read more »

Bart
Bart

ACP, thanks for the links on breast cancer funding. The actual percentage is not much different than the amount that gets to education through lottery sales. But I guess the NFL could also argue that by using October as a month to wear pink accessories while millions watch the games, there is an increase in awareness and possibly contributions that are not counted in NFL sales. The rest can be debated. You cite 3 owners as a reflection of the overall ownership. Hardly an indictment of the entire group. Concussions are a hazard of the job, players know this going… Read more »

Andrew C. Pope
Andrew C. Pope

Research on the link between concussions (and even repetitive sub-concussive impacts) and CTE is relatively recent. The players suing are, by and large, players who started playing and finished playing well after the long-term hazards of playing football were known. So to say “they knew what they were signing up for” dismisses the fact that these guys didn’t know what they were signing up for 5, 10, 20 years down the road. It can be argued that we still don’t know the long term impacts of playing football on brain health and that players still don’t know what they’re getting… Read more »

Noway2016
Noway2016

+1. Same with the tobacco lawsuit. They plastered a warning label on the cigs in the mid-60’s. You got cancer after knowing it was dangerous? You shouldn’t have gotten a dime. Biggest civil miscarriage of justice ever.

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

You forgot to mention the NFL is (or was until very recently) a monopoly non-profit.

Pete Gibbons
Pete Gibbons

I am announcing an exploratory committee to bring the Raiders and Super Bowl 53 to Bowman. Unfortunately, the original funding source via Powerball fell through but what’s another $300 million for a stadium in Northeast GA.

Charlie
Charlie

One of the greatest mistakes people make in politics (and life) is continuing to fight battles that are already lost. Whether because of emotion, denial, or laziness to recycle talking points some refuse to move on. That preface is to say that those of you familiar with my writing know that there was likely not a more outspoken critic of this stadium deal and the process of how it came about than me. I was “not a fan”. That said, I lost. Period. The stadium is under construction. I’ve moved on. This is a different argument. As Chet notes, we’ll… Read more »

Andrew C. Pope
Andrew C. Pope

Charlie, I’m not trying to re-litigate the stadium issue. I would, however, like for everyone to bookmark this news story so that, 15 years from now, when the Falcons and the NFL are crying about the need for a new, new stadium, threatening to move to Kuala Lumpur, and promising Super Bowls… lawmakers and the general public will be better equipped to call them on their B.S.

Charlie
Charlie

I think this one has a 30 year lease (not stopping to look it up) so at least we’ll have to wait a few years longer this time before the upgrade carousel begins again, at least with the NFL.

Pete Gibbons
Pete Gibbons

Where’s the like button here?

Baker
Baker

Charlie: I hear what you’re saying. It’s done. There’s nothing we can do about it, so we might as well enjoy ourselves and get on board. My problem with that however is that that’s how they keep getting away with it. Owners know that a great majority of fans will bend over and take it and then when push comes to shove, not act any differently and still buy tickets, still watch the games and what not. There’s essentially no price to be paid. If you can get away with backdoor deals with some (IMO) corrupt politicians and garner yourself… Read more »

Charlie
Charlie

Again, while your point is taken, I’ll say it again this way: 1) The Super Bowl is going to be held somewhere. 2) The semi-official rule is if you build a new stadium, you get a Superbowl 3) To get rule number two, the NFL (as with any other major event sponsor) is going to dictate some terms for the bid (check out the demands for Olympics these days…or even the RNC or DNC conventions) 4) The Superbowl is going to sell out wherever it is, is going to be a major media draw/advertisement for the host city, and will… Read more »

Ellynn
Ellynn

The question comes down to what is gained from hosting a Super Bowl in other areas of sales that generate taxes. I know the tax revenue measured in Brown County in January when Green Bay hosts a playoff vs. no game is huge for a county with less then 260,000 people. It’s not too shabby for the half dozen counties that I-41 and I-43 pass through to the south, Oneida Indian Reservation to the west, or little Oconto County to the north either. Not including the extra profit from general sales to local business. Again, that’s just for a ‘at-home’… Read more »

Saltycracker
Saltycracker

Why would the NFL make a no sales tax stipulation ?
If a $100+ fee @ were attached for the stadium and they give a portion to the NFL, packagers would still grab them up, Mark them up and sell them out.

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

There’s no doubt Arthur Blank knew it would require a $10M tax exemption to get the Superbowl when that was touted as a benefit of a new stadium.

Did government leadership not know it would cost $10M to get the Superboel, or did it sit on that information during public debate and when touting hosting the Superbowl?

It’s indication they were out of their league in negotiations if they didn’t know.
It’s indication of how they think the public should be handled if they did.

Rock on, Donald Trump. The establishment is clueless.

Baker
Baker

“Rock on, Donald Trump. The establishment is clueless.”

Wait what? Donald Trump would fork over that money to the NFL faster than Felicia Moore could file an inquiry (wait, that’s the current mayor…HEY-OH!)

Trump would be the worst kind of crony capitalism, corporate welfare we’ve ever seen. He would blow that type of stuff WAY UP. Crony capitalism on East German era steroids. Reason #680 to keep that blowhard as far from the White House as possible.

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

Trump very well would fork it over pronto. The point I sought to make wasn’t that Trump wouldn’t do such a thing, but the $10M tax exemption is is an example of pols that were either stupid or (more likely) think the public is stupid (not without reason), and that Trump has tapped into people’s anger about such things. Trump has no record as an officeholder, he’s done well in deal-making on his own behalf, and there’s an ear for the bluster his deals would well serve the public. I didn’t think it three months ago, but it appears Trump… Read more »

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