“Public subsidy must require public benefit.” These words were spoken by Carl Redwood during a speech he gave at an Occupy Pittsburgh rally. He was referring the billion dollars in funding that the Pittsburgh Penguins are recieving for the demolition and construction of a new arena in the Hill district of Pittsburgh. The Penguins, upon hearing the uproar over the fact that they had recieved so much money in funding, gave back $1 million to the city. That still leaves $999 million and the people want to see more money coming back to them. The Penguins will be bringing in $14,000 a day in parking revenue with their huge parking lots and the citizens of the HIll district want to see $1 from every car parked go back into their community. This is not asking a lot from those that will be seeing such a great benefit for their franchise at the behest of tax payers.
I have always thought is crazy how much money professional sports teams get from tax payers to build their stadiums. Yes, it does bring in jobs and revenue due to all the sporting events, concerts and other things that come to these new stadiums, but lets be honest, who is really benefitting more? Often times the value of teams dramatically increases and the owner instantly adds hundreds of millions of dollars to their worth becasue of tax subsidy. Not to mention, their are also sometimes labor disputes between owners and players – which can delay or cancel a season – so then where is the benefit if the stadium is not being used. I think we all need to think about Carl Redwood’s quote when it comes to public subsidy and demand public benefit to be included. This is not but a microcosm of how we must view all public subsidy. When the government taxes the people and gives their money away there must be a public benefit.
Here is a clip from Redwood’s Speech.