Every dollar counts. I encourage people to become informed citizens and fight like hell.
‘FIGHT LIKE HELL’
Public financing of sports stadiums gets overlooked easily. Who wants to be the stick- in-the-mud politician who denies the fun to tens of thousands of sports fans? Experts like Capell and deMause says there is a heightened responsibility for citizens to speak up... before they’re required to hand over their wallets. “It is difficult for people in different cities to come together,” says deMause. “But they need to so they can share learning experiences and protect their finances.” In recent years, the U.S. Congress has presented proposals to eliminate taxes and bonds to support sports stadiums. None of the proposals have gotten far. Often the hometown hoopla about getting a sports team drowns out more reasonable financial predictions. “Sometimes citizens need to push back just so there is less money approved on the project,” says deMause. “Those are victories, too, because every dollar counts. I encourage people to become informed citizens and fight like hell.”
“If business owners and private enterprises think that building these new sporting facilities is such a great investment, then why don’t they pony up all the money and reap the short-term and long-term benefits that come with it?” questions Capell. “But instead the foundation of every plan always begins and ends with taxpayer money.” Capell moved to Cincinnati in 1999, three years after the baseball-stadium tax passed. “By then the public had already started rallying against it,” says Capell. Capell says another “stadium shakedown” is happening as the city is also trying to build a new stadium for its soccer team, so it can join Major League Soccer. Neither proposal has advanced far enough to be voted on by the citizens of Cincinnati. And Capell wants to keep it that way. “Everyone acknowledges that the 1996 stadium deal was a disaster that nobody wants to repeat,” he says. “We need to look at the entire range of capital projects and rank them by the highest government legitimacy, and when that happens building two sports stadiums is not on the list.”
72 | October 2017
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