March 19, 2007, - 1:24 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
I’ve always opposed public funding for sports stadiums, arenas, etc. Neither you nor I get the public to fund and build our office building. So, why should billionaires get that for their millionaire employees to work and play in extreme luxury? And beside that, by its very definition, public funding for these facilities is always a spending and tax increase. If a team can’t afford a new arena, then neither can taxpayers.
Sports teams do not bring an increase in good-paying jobs. Their jobs, in fact, pay far below market wages–because of the psychological lure that brings up demand for sports-related jobs at any wage. And many jobs associated with sports teams are seasonal–such as food vendors and security, who are soon on the unemployment lines and the taxpayer dole.
But that didn’t seem to bother Seattle. It looked like the Seattle NBA Team, the SuperSonics, was going to get a $300 million tax subsidy to build a new arena. Until–Until it was disclosed that two out-of-state minority owners of the Supersonics–HORRORS!–gave $1 million to a group fighting gay marriage. Tom Ward and Aubrey McClendon, Oklahoma oil and gas execs who each hold a 20% stake in the team, gave more than $1 million to Americans United to Preserve Marriage, run by conservative Gary Bauer.
Now, suddenly, liberal Washington State legislators–who should be against any tax subsidies for sports teams–are opposing subsidies for the stadium on the grounds of the donations to oppose gay marriage. They’re being called “homophobes” (while an openly gay Oklahoma officeholder says they aren’t because they gave money to his campaign). That’s absurd.
The fact that these men have $1 million to give to any political cause tells me that they have $1 million they could have given to build a new building for their basketball team, which should not be funded by taxpayers.
But whether or not it’s to oppose gay marriage should be irrelevant. And it’s a due process and equal protection concern, too.
Tags: Aubrey McClendon, basketball, Brokeback Stadium, Debbie Schlussel, food vendors, Gary Bauer, Gay Marriage, National Basketball Association, oil and gas execs, Oklahoma, Seattle, Seattle SuperSonics, sports stadiums, sports teams, Tax-Funded Sports Arena, Tom Ward, USD