Thursday, March 29, 2007

"Taxpayers last to benefit from stadiums" Associated Press 3/29/7

The Associated Press March 29, 2007, 3:02PM EST text size: TT
Taxpayers last to benefit from stadiums


Taxpayers don't benefit from multimillion-dollar publicly subsidized professional sports stadiums, residents from New York, Detroit and Seattle told lawmakers at hearing Thursday.

"We have terrible budget deficits as a result of having professional sports," said Frank Rashid, a Detroit resident who waged an unsuccessful 10-year campaign to stop construction of a new Detroit Tigers Stadium at Comerica Park.

At a House subcommittee hearing on domestic policy, Rashid said promises of economic development and new jobs didn't materialize from the stadium built with public and private money in 2006.

He maintained that 30 schools are being closed, residents can't get quick responses when they dial 911 for emergency help, and there are fewer police and fire fighters on the streets.

Just last year, the Internal Revenue Service revamped regulations that give stadium developers easier access to tax-exempt financing. But lawmakers continue to get complaints that stadiums built or upgraded with tax-free financing make economic conditions better not worse.

The hearing was one in a series focused on the state of urban America. A week earlier, the panel had focused on rising foreclosures on mortgages issued to borrowers with high-risk credit.

Joyce Hogi, a south Bronx widow, detailed conditions in four apartment buildings 100 feet away from four parking garages built for Yankee Stadium.

"The process ... had no standards and was arbitrary and capricious," Hogi said. She blamed stadium owner "greed" for the presence of professional sports team making life worse for people who live nearby.

Some lawmakers defended the IRS' move last year.

"There are wrong ways and right ways to do it," said Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. The area near PETCO Stadium, home to the San Diego Padres baseball team, experienced an "economic boom" after it opened in 2004, following a five-year legal battle to prevent the project.

Yet Democratic congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio said construction of a new stadium in his home state did not add jobs in a community that has the highest poverty and foreclosure rate in the country.


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