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People's Game? The Taxpayers' Stake in NFL Labor Negotiations People's Game? The Taxpayers' Stake in NFL Labor Negotiations

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Homepage (Subscribers) / Public Policy

People's Game? The Taxpayers' Stake in NFL Labor Negotiations


In a move that could jeopardize the 2011 NFL season, the players union decided late Friday to decertify, after two weeks of federally mediated negotiations in Washington failed to produce an agreement between the leagues' owners and players.


The collective-bargaining agreement expires Friday at midnight. The union's next move will be to seek an injunction to keep the owners from locking the players out.

What this means is that Americans are facing the specter of a fall without football, which would ripple through the economies of the league's cities: fewer beers sold, less merchandise moved from shelves, stadiums across the country silenced—the rites of late-summer, early-autumn Sundays changed as we know it.

It is not just the proceeds from Sunday sales that are on the line. Many NFL cities have made a public investment, either issuing bonds or raising taxes. Here’s a look at the top 15 NFL cities rated by public investment in an NFL stadium, according to estimates gathered from multiple sources, including public records, media reports, and, a football-reference site.

Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis opened in 2008. The dome is owned by the Indiana Stadium and Convention Building Authority and is managed by the Capital Improvement Board. The $720 million was financed by taxes on prepared foods.

Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field opened in 2003. The $500 million in funding came from the city, state, league, and team. The stadium is owned by Philadelphia and is operated by the Eagles.

Cincinnati's Paul Brown Stadium, owned by Hamilton County, Ohio, opened in 2000. The nearly $400 million cost was paid for through a half-cent rise in the sales tax.

Arrowhead Stadium is owned by the Jackson County Sports Complex and is managed by the Kansas City Chiefs. The stadium, which opened in 1972, cost $150 million to build but is undergoing $375 million worth of renovations.

The Chicago Park District owns Soldier Field and the city of Chicago manages it. The cost of the famed stadium's $365 million renovation was entirely publicly financed.

Invesco Field at Mile High is owned by the Denver Metropolitan Football Stadium District. The stadium opened in 2001 and cost $364.2 million, which was financed with an increase in the sales tax.

The home of the most recent Super Bowl, Cowboys Stadium cost $1.15 billion to complete. The city sales tax went up by one-half of a percent, the hotel occupancy tax by 2 percent, and the car-rental tax by 5 percent, according to Dallas Morning News reports. The city of Arlington, Texas, provided $325 million in funding, and Dallas Cowboys team owner Jerry Jones covered any cost overruns. Also, the NFL provided the Cowboys with an additional $150 million.

University of Phoenix Stadium opened in 2006 and cost $455 million. The Arizona Cardinals contributed $147 million to the financing; the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority contributed nearly $300 million; and the city of Glendale, Ariz., contributed nearly $10 million.

Lambeau Field, famously called Lambert Field by John Kerry in the 2004 presidential campaign, opened in 1957 at a cost of less than $1 million. The historic home of the Green Bay Packers was renovated early last decade for $295 million. The money was raised publicly.

The Browns, the city of Cleveland, and the Cleveland Stadium Corp. own and operate the stadium, which opened in 1999. According to the Browns, the stadium cost about $290 million, with funds coming from the team, the city, the county, the state of Ohio, and the Regional Transit Authority.


The team once known as the Houston Oilers paid for its stadium through public funds. LP Field, home to the Tennesse Titans, opened in 1999, and the $290 million price tag was picked up by the city of Nashville and the state of Tennessee in the form of bonds backed by hotel taxes and land grants.

Edward Jones Dome is owned by the St. Louis Regional Sports Authority and is operated by the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission. The stadium opened in 1995 at a cost of $280 million, with the city, county, and state providing financing.

The $214 million Georgia Dome, home of the Atlanta Falcons, was built on land donated by the state, and the state-owned Georgia World Congress Center Authority issued bonds. The authority also operates the stadium.


The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum is owned by the county coliseum authority and opened in 1966. Its latest renovation, which cost $200 million and was completed in 1996, was almost entirely paid for by municipal bonds.

The Buccaneers' Raymond James Stadium opened in 1998 for $168.5 million and was financed by the Tampa Sports Authority through a one-half-percent raise in the sales tax.

Baltimore Ravens: M&T Bank Stadium is owned by the Maryland Stadium Authority but is managed by the Ravens. The stadium cost $220 million to build, and the authority is bracing for the potential economic impact of an NFL lockout and the possibility that the 2011 season could be canceled. The MSA, according to a budget document, made a $2 million debt payment in 2009 and withheld a payment in 2010 to reserve payment for 2011.

Buffalo Bills: Ralph Wilson Stadium opened in 1973. The Erie County-owned-and-operated venue was renovated for $63 million at the public’s expense in 1999.

Carolina Panthers: Bank of America Stadium was built primarily from the sale of personal seat licenses, but the city of Charlotte, N.C., and the surrounding county of Mecklenburg invested in the stadium when it was built in 1996. The city contributed nearly $40 million, and Mecklenburg County paid for $10 million. The rest of the $248 million was raised privately.

Detroit Lions: Ford Field opened in 2002, with funding for the $300 million project coming from a variety of sources, including the city of Detroit and Wayne County, Mich., as well as the Ford Motor Co.

Houston Texans: Reliant Stadium, owned by Harrison County, opened in 2002 and cost $352 million. Most of the funding came from Reliant Energy, which agreed to pay for the naming rights for 32 years.

Miami Dolphins: Sun Life Stadium was built in 1987 and was nearly entirely privately financed.

Minnesota Vikings: The nearly 30-year-old Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, whose roof collapsed under the weight of snow this past season, is owned by the city of Minneapolis. The stadium, which opened in 1982, cost $68 million and was paid for by the issuing of city bonds.

Pittsburgh Steelers: The city own the $281 million stadium, while the Steelers operate it. The team paid for nearly $77 million worth of the stadium project.

New England Patriots: Gillette Stadium is owned by team owner Robert Kraft, who financed the $325 million it cost to build the stadium in Foxborough, Mass., in 2002.

New York Giants/Jets: The New Meadowlands Stadium opened in 2010. The Jets and Giants own and operate the stadium, which cost $1.6 billion to build in New Jersey.

San Diego Chargers: Qualcomm Stadium opened in 1968, with its last major renovation in 1997. It is owned and operated by the city of San Diego. The city raised $18 million in naming rights and $60 million from the sale of municipal bonds to pay for the 1997 renovation.

San Francisco 49ers: Candlestick Park is owned and managed by the city of San Francisco. The stadium opened in 1960, with Vice President Richard Nixon throwing out the first pitch at a Giants baseball game, and was built for $24.6 million. Its last major renovation was in 1972, and the NFL team is planning to move to a new stadium in Santa Clara in 2015. The City of Santa Clara is expected to make a $79 million investment in the stadium.

Seattle Seahawks: Qwest Field opened in 2002 at a cost of $320 million. The stadium is owned by the Washington State Public Stadium Authority and is managed by First and Goal, a private company. The stadium was paid for through an extension of county-issued bonds serviced by car-rental and hotel taxes to raise $75 million; six lottery games were added to raise $91 million; and team owner Paul Allen provided $100 million. If interest is included in the calculation, according to media reports, the total public debt would be $500 million by 2020, when the debt is expected to be paid off.

Washington Redskins: Daniel Snyder owns the Redskins and operates FedEx Field, which cost $250.5 million to build and opened in 1997. The state was responsible for $70.5 million; private money paid for the rest.





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