Over the past 25 years ESPN has gotten millions in tax credits (tax dollars straight from the tax payer to the company) and tax breaks (which can still constitute a form of crony capitalism even if the taxpayer doesn’t directly pay for them) from Connecticut. The highly profitable business (even without the credits and breaks) has worked its way into the state legislature over the years and has, according to the New York Times, been able to effectively siphon off a steady stream of state revenue. Between the stadium boondoggles, taxpayers subsidizing college sports, and all the rest, sports in general is full of crony capitalism. It’s a key part of the culture.
I love sports. I grew up playing soccer, basketball, and football and spent much of my high school years surfing. (Which really is more art than sport – I still enjoy it when I can.) I have come to love golf. But the NFL, NBA, MLB thing mystifies me. I used to enjoy watching the big sports years ago, but now it’s all so slick. It’s so packaged. Americans spend so much money, time, and energy on spectator sports and as in ESPN’s case even pay taxes to circus ring leaders. I don’t get it.
I am probably being too hard. But can you imagine the reception the ESPN lobbyist gets when he shows up to meet with Joe Blow state delegate from Norwalk?
(From The New York Times)
ESPN is hardly needy. With nearly 100 million households paying about $5.54 a month for ESPN, regardless of whether they watch it, the network takes in more than $6 billion a year in subscriber fees alone. Still, ESPN has received about $260 million in state tax breaks and credits over the past 12 years, according to a New York Times analysis of public records. That includes $84.7 million in development tax credits because of a film and digital media program, as well as savings of about $15 million a year since the network successfully lobbied the state for a tax code change in 2000.