Double Subsidies for NFL Team, Says Nashville Government Agency Head

Published June 12, 2017

The Nashville, Tennessee Metropolitan Sports Authority, a local government agency responsible for operating and maintaining professional sports venues in the city and surrounding county, is considering increasing taxpayers’ annual payoff to the owners of the Tennessee Titans, a National Football League team headquartered in the city.

On May 18, Metropolitan Sports Authority Director Monica Fawknotson proposed doubling city taxpayers’ annual subsidy to the Titans to $2 million, saying, “[W]e’re just at the place where $1 million is no longer enough to fund the capital needs.”

Welfare for the Rich

Mark Cunningham, communications director at the Beacon Center of Tennessee, says taxpayers’ hard-earned money should not subsidize already-successful business owners’ capital projects.

“They are bringing in millions of dollars, hand over fist,” Cunningham said. “I hate this idea that we need to give them a bunch of money in order for them to be successful. That’s ridiculous. Most of these owners of football and hockey teams are multi-multi-millionaires or billionaires who have obviously made good business decisions in the past. The idea is they are going to come to your city if they think they can make money, which they do fairly often. We don’t need to subsidize them on top of that.”

No Stimulus Needed

Funneling taxpayer money to subsidize sports teams in the name of economic development doesn’t make sense, Cunningham says, because Nashville’s economy is already booming.

“Nashville is one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States,” Cunningham said. “Why do we need to pay all this money for these teams to come in here when they are going to make money anyway? We don’t need to subsidize them.”

Suggests Subsidy Cuts

Ross Marchand, a policy analyst with the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, says lawmakers should be cutting taxpayer subsidies, not increasing them.

“Given the track record with all these subsidies, it is time for state governments and municipalities to take a step back from all these ridiculous, convoluted financing schemes,” Marchand said. “It’s a huge redistribution of wealth from the bottom to the top, to these sports executives and the players.”

Unfortunately for taxpayers, Marchand says, sports stadium subsidies are an easy way for lawmakers to take credit for economic prosperity.

“I think that it’s easy to take other people’s money,” Marchand said. “It also looks attractive to politicians to say they were behind these renovations or relocations. It’s the whole thing where the benefits are seen and they are gaudy and on display, but the costs are unseen and dispersed, and we all have to foot the bill for it. The costs are also spread out amongst many decades, so taxpayers are not necessarily feeling an immediate impact, but over the long run, they will certainly be feeling that impact.”