The first item on the Glendale city council workshop session of Jan. 7, 2014 was a legislative update. Council’s interest was in making a run on the state legislature to adopt a mechanism to reimburse host cities for major events. Reimbursement could be applied to anything major such as the Barrett Jackson Auto Show or a major NBA tournament. It’s an idea long overdue. From the time Glendale hosted its first Super Bowl and lost money doing so, I have continually pressed for such action. Even in discussions with the Host Committee regarding Glendale’s second hosting of a Super Bowl their reaction in pursuing such legislation was tepid. In the past 7 years there has been no interest, except in Glendale, to create such a mechanism. Glendale’s Intergovernmental Director, Brent Stoddard, continues to sound less than enthusiastic about its successful adoption by the state legislature in direct contrast to Mayor Weiers who said several times that he was “optimistic” that this would be the year for such successful legislation to be adopted. I would prefer to believe that this is the year for its adoption. Let’s hope they suceed in obtaining some kind of legislation to remedy this situation. Glendale simply cannot afford to host events that, in fact, benefit the entire state.
That leads to something that the TV media has been reporting lately. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., has filed a bill to end the tax exemption status of the NFL (granted in the 1940’s) on grounds that Americans are subsidizing a for-profit sports league. The NFL’s non-profit status was something I had highlighted in one of my blogs several months ago. Many were surprised to learn that it had a non-profit status.
Coburn’s bill, the Properly Reducing Overexemptions for Sports Act (PRO Sports Act), would do away with the tax break currently enjoyed by the league offices of the National Football League, the National Hockey League, golf’s PGA Tour, and the Ladies Professional Golf Association. Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association have voluntarily given up their nonprofit status. Coburn has argued that if all the professional league offices were denied this exemption, Americans could recapture the estimated $91 million that goes each year for the subsidy. There is a group called the Rootstrikers, (http://www.rootstrikers.org), created in 2011 by Harvard law school professor Lawrence Lessig and political activist Joe Trippi to fight political corruption. They want to give momentum to this issue and have started an online petition to support Coburn’s bill. If you feel so inclined, check it out.
It is estimated that the NFL realizes $9 billion dollars annually and their top executives earn more than most corporate CEOs. For example, the NFL’s CEO is paid $30 million dollars a year. With that kind of revenue the NFL is a gorilla when it comes to congressional lobbying. In recent years it spent nearly $4 million dollars and at the same time contributed nearly $2 million dollars to congressional campaigns. It has a lot of clout and Senator Coburn will have an uphill battle to get his bill passed successfully.
Later today we’ll take a look at other council discussions at its recent workshop: one on municipal marketing and one on organizational restructuring.
© Joyce Clark, 2014
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