LET THEM EAT ICE CREAM*

October 26th, 2016

You may have noticed in the Plain Dealer and from twitchy, excitable TV anchor personalities that our hero LeBron James hinted, wouldn’t it be wonderfully generous if fans were given free ice cream. It would be to celebrate the opening of the World Series for the Cleveland Indians and the distribution of championship rings for the Cleveland Cavaliers. All happened last night.

“It’s going to be great,” James said, according to the exuberant Plain Dealer, “Like I said from a fan’s perspective, is there any better way? I don’t know, having an ice cream truck outside both arenas (I guess he means the baseball stadium) at the same time as well—the icing on the cake. It’s great.”

If you’re paying the prices being quoted for seats at the stadium I’m not sure a free ice cream is much icing.

It’s more like saying, here’s a bonus, sucker.

James, you may know, is earning $30 million this year ($33 and $35 millions subsequent years) and expecting another $44 million in endorsement money.

That buys a lot of ice cream.

Other Cavs don’t do badly either: Kevin Love $22.6 million; Kyle Irving $18.8 million; Tristan Thompson $16.4 million; and Iman Shumpert $10.3 million this year.

Who do you think provides the means to pay these sums?

You do.

(The sin tax, paid in Cuyahoga County, raised $240.5 million first 15 years, $135 million second 10 years, expected $240 million in present 20-year extension. As of end of September, the sin tax has a balance of $14,569,811. Lots of cream.)

Sports of all kinds have become a massively subsidized business—welfare clients.

Yes, give them ice cream!

If anyone truly wants to end welfare, as many politicians desire, they should start especially with major league sports. They will find the greediest of corporate kingpins and that includes many of the players.

We have spent more than a billion dollars on our three sports team facilities while we charge essentially nothing and allow the team owners to reap full revenues and add some of LeBron’s icing by charging no property taxes. Sorry, Cleveland school kids and teachers. No free ice cream.

But other cities and states are doing more now so the gravy train keeps moving.

Here are just a couple of paragraphs from Reason magazine about the latest rape of a city for an NFL team expected switch from Oakland to Las Vegas:

Las Vegas and Nevada taxpayers may soon be on the hook for a $750 million handout to a billionaire casino magnate’s company, to build a stadium for the National Football League (NFL)’s Raiders and the University of Nevada-Las Vegas’ football team.

The crony capitalist cabal known as the The Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee—which ESPN describes as comprised of “casino leaders and elected officials”—voted unanimously to raise Las Vegas hotel taxes as a means of financing a brand-new domed stadium. The Raiders, who currently call Oakland (Calif.) home, will contribute far less at $500 million, while Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino owner and financier of failed political campaigns, will contribute $650 million through his Las Vegas Sands corporation.

If Las Vegas thinks that’s the extent of the corporate welfare for some rich guys’ plaything they need to come to Cleveland and take a closer look.

Lebron’s ice cream attention-grabber once again shows that he has a talent for self-promotion.

King James is chairman of the board of his LeBron James Family Foundation. His 2014 IRS filing, latest available, shows the foundation gave $333,333 to renovate the gym and training room of St. Vincent-St. Mary High School Foundation. It’s his high school alma mater. That’s the largest gift. The Northeast Ohio Basketball Association got the next highest gift of $109,252. Both are in Akron, his hometown. The charity has a Chicago, not Cleveland, address.

There is no indication who contributes to the foundation.

There is no list of who contributed the $1.6 million for 2014. Among the expenses are $18,274 for legal fees, $35,050 for advertising and promotion and $28,000 for accounting.

*I thank Peter Phipps, former reporter with a sharp pencil, of the Cleveland Press, snubbed by the PD when the Press went under in 1982. He responded with the line in an e-mail. Phipps is deputy managing editor of the Providence Journal. The Plain Dealer’s and Cleveland’s great loss.

By Roldo Bartimole…

One Response to “LET THEM EAT ICE CREAM*

  1. MFiala says:

    I railed at Naymik last Tuesday evening, off Ontario, between the golden calves/icons, Cleveland religion, of sports arenas, about our subsidizing these sports venues. (He was covering the logo-issue.)
    And told him he needed to bring up this issue of subsidy regularly as you do.
    He said he does … and you, Roldo, too much. I replied, he needed to do it every other week, then.

    Anyway, i don’t begrudge any player getting every penny from the bloated sports-system.
    It simply gouges from the owners, a big slice of a gross-pie.
    They are responsible for re-distributing their wealth and will be so known by their deeds.
    Just so, Mr. James’ Foundation.

    Ridiculous sports salaries reflect a corrupt culture of advertisement and municipal subsidies – an ersatz religion.
    Sports, actually playing a game with others, is a beautiful thing. Play is the thing; it is not about winning or losing.
    But professional athletics and all its farm teams, going down now to recruitment of athletes at 12 years old by high school football coaches, distorts our human culture into an industry and commodity.

    We’d be a lot wiser as a community not to play by these rules and create alternatives.

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