A few miles outside of Los Angeles, in a business-tax-free haven of strip malls and strip clubs called the City of Industry -- under 800 residents and fewer than 100 voters -- ground is ready to be broken for an $800-million football stadium. The team to play there is yet to be determined.
As Neil deMause, coauthor of "Field of Schemes," told me: "It's a weird one, in large part because the City of Industry is so weird. Arnold's claim that it's entirely privately financed is a crock -- the land and infrastructure is being funded by property taxes -- but in a town with barely any actual people in it, you could legitimately argue that the industry in Industry is just voting to tax itself to bring the NFL to town."
– "If there's no team, it's bonkers to build a stadium," LA Times
The Minnesota Vikings are one of the teams the City of Industry hopes to attract, and the Wilfs are again making noises about how terrible their stadium situation is.
If the stadium without the team in the town without people attracts the Vikings, will the franchise be renamed City of Industry Migrants?
So far, in public, the negotiations haven't reached the blackmail stage, where the team threatens to move to the open arms of City of Industry. But wait for it.
The Vikes are so far riding a wave of winning unmarked this season by lap dances, assaults, drunk driving or steroid abuse. The lobbyists will try to point out how much business and tax revenue a team brings to a city — use that to justify public spending for a new venue.
But we have a governor who has given tax shuffles a bad name. The Vikings tax revenue is already going into state coffers, so moving it to stadium payments will take it away from somewhere. And we have plenty of more basic needs, such as health care for the poor, that are taking a hit in the coming year.
Public subsidies for sports teams don't work out any better than they do for corporations who want tax incentives to build plants or relocate jobs. But the teams have something more going for the. They can tap the emotion of fans, and not just raise the ire of taxpayers.