July 17th, 2017

170717 roldo hilton
Why is it so hard for the Plain Dealer (and TV news and Ideastream) to tell the truth about major league sports and the costs to this community?

Why can’t they take hard looks at the dollar/revenues of the three major league sports teams? It reveals how obscene treating the teams as welfare clients.

Why can’t they tell the public the true costs of supporting these profitable sports businesses? They are not non-profits.

They do have enough space or air time for this information. After all, the sports pages seem to get the largest amount of pages in a continuously reduced news hole.

Is it simply community spirit that limits their coverage?

You’ll remember how crazy the PD and TV went when we temporarily “lost” the Cleveland Browns. If you didn’t here’s a good resume of it.

The thrust of the news media in town affects the entire tone of civic life. That’s why it is so important. It helps decide what is vital and what’s rather meaningless.

So much just slips by notice. Hard to see what’s not there.

Tax breaks for the NFL’s biggest customer—Corporate America—NFL teams sell between $1.5 billion to $2 billion worth of luxury and high-end club seats a year, according to Bill Dorsey, the chairman of the Association of Luxury Suite Directors. A single suite can cost as much as $750,000 a season. Almost all suites and club tickets are bought by corporate clients, (who) write the cost off as a business entertainment expense, reports CNN.

The NFL is the most profitable pro sports league in the U.S., raking in an estimated $1 billion in profits on $10.5 billion in revenue last season, figures likely to increase this year.

Those massive profits are made possible in part by the billions of taxpayer dollars that local governments spend on teams, coupled with tax breaks worth hundreds of millions for the teams, the league, their sponsors and fans.

Did you know that in 2014, latest available, the Browns got $226.4 million just from the national TV revenue share? We know this only because one team, The Green Bay Packers team is a community-owned team. So the Packers release data no other team does. However, it reveals what they received and since the divide is equal each teams got the same amount.

The Browns revenue, according to a Statista, a statistical portal, had revenue since 2001 a bit more than $3.3 billion. And it’s been going up annually from $158 million in 2001 to $347 million in 2015.

Pray, why then is Cleveland primarily subsidizing the Browns place of business?

How crazy are we? How corrupt are our officials?

Why do the Browns get charged $250,000 a year to use the stadium we built for them, on land we (Clevelanders) own? Further, we pay the property taxes on stadium’s city land and charge the Browns NO property taxes—not a penn—on the stadium or the land?


Mayor Frank Jackson (with Council help) even worked a sweet deal on parking for Jimmy Haslam, Browns billionaire owner. Jackson worked a deal to give the Browns 1,700 parking spaces (if they have everything else, why not this?) for $70,000. Now you might say, well he got $70,000 for the city. Right?

Yes, but you break it down and it’s about $4 a space. Where do you park downtown for $4? The Browns take that advantage, too.

It’s not only the Browns.

The Cleveland Cavaliers—the team that wants the County to borrow $140 million for a revenue-enhancing expansion of its Quicken Arena—had revenues in 2015-16 season alone of $233 million.

But Mr. Citizen Sucker can you please dig a big deeper in your pockets to help the billionaire owners and multi-millionaire players?

The news media have been totally delinquent on this give-away with the PD especially supportive with little critical reporting.

(Don’t you just love those ballplayers making million spending an hour with children to get themselves on TV as caring humanitarians? I personally gag. But it’s part of the mass media sell-out).

By the way, the sin tax take just this year totals $6,789,890 through June. That suggests we’ll hit $13 million by year’s end in a regressive tax for Our Teams, or is it Their Teams. But the Cavs want a new stream of subsidies.

And, of course, you know that these taxes (and those below) are not aimed at, and do not hit the wealthy class.

They are strictly aimed at ordinary people. They hit almost every purchase. Every day. And never decrease. A rigged tax system by corporate interests and endorsed by the media, particularly the PD.

It’s no secret. Not hard to figure out. But the PD & TV are blinded to the corruption. That makes them part and parcel of the crime.


And while we’re talking regressive taxes for special interests, the quarter percent increase in the sales tax, courtesy of former County Commissioner Tim Hagan primarily, hits taxpayers hard. Let’s look at how it’s doing. Something left out of the PD and the even worse The dot com is busy telling you about pizza parlors, beer joints and what to do this weekend.

This pick pocket robbery was for that wonderful Medical Mart, which included a new convention center and now a fancy county hotel.

The take from County residents to date: $435,251,482. That’s $435 million in those penny extra taxes.

And surprise: It keeps going up as taxable priced item prices rise.

So let’s look at what Mr. Budish, that’s County Executive Armond Budish, and the new County Council (like the old County Commissioners) are enjoying.

In only one year, 2009 when the deep recession likely had its impact, did tax revenue slip down. The only recent year it went down. Otherwise, it’s all up. More tax revenue for the corporate downtown establishment, led by Mayor Jackson.

Every other year since 2008, the quarter-percent sales tax increase has risen.
170717 roldo tax table
Notice the climb up. And it continues this year.

In the first four months of this year:January—$4,380,002, February—$4,524,725, March—$5,479,378, April—$3,908,850 and May—$4,096,647.

In each month of first five months of 2017 the figures were higher than those of the same months in the previous year.

So it appears we are headed for another higher take this year than last.

The total take in this one quarter-percent sales tax increase has cost Cuyahoga County taxpayers to the end of May 2017 $435,251,482.

We thought when this tax increase was enacted that the total take over its 20 year duration might hit $800 million. Average about $40 million a year.

No! Now, it appears clear that it will surpass $1 billion in this one added sales tax for Cuyahoga County residents alone.

And that’s not the worst of it.

What the billion dollars bought will cost more as the convention center loses money and the medical mart, now Global Center whatever, also leaks deficits and the hotel gushes losses.

Indeed, all three of these ventures will be money drains for Cuyahoga County taxpayers.

But we’re doing fine say the PD, the TV and our listless Mayor Jackson.

By Roldo Bartimole…

One Response to “LYING BY IGNORING”

  1. MFiala says:

    Thanks for the relentless jeremiad against media coverage of Sports Teams. They deserve it.
    And mainstream media ignores these issues they can’t bear taking a stand on something of substance that would draw any ire and upset the faux urban renaissance image of Cleveland. There is no depth to this hype, even if there is a bubble, inflated by tax abatements and low interest rates and a collapsed economy (2008 Recession) trying to regenerate.

    Just look at an effort by the CMSD to negotiate some kind of deal on real estate taxes with for a development downtown.

    Taxes become an essential part of every development deal because ‘no one would want to live or do business in Cleveland without a tax-break.’ A rush to the bottom, by all. And the Cleveland suburbs provide the same tax breaks for development – one community/suburb in the same region competing against another suburb because it’s cut-throat, modeled by our city/county leaders!

    Cleveland and its democratic county and city councils have embraced trickle-down economics (aka socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor) long after the demise of that slogan, because that’s been the way of the elites from time immemorial.
    Once community activists, some of those very council members,—they are now all beholden to the systems of power that they even believe their own nonsense much of the time.

    It’s the neoliberalism and philosophy of the Democrats generally—Obama, Clinton, et. al.

    And the supposed independent media (PD, etc) share the same zip code and/or belief in wealthy largesse, rather than critique. So it’s all ‘rah-rah’ Cleveland. No (or very limited) challenges to the structures of injustice and inequality.

    So, for me, any support, even as a fan, is too much support for professional sports teams.

    Something once beloved by me .. sports .. is now a regular occasion for me to bring up the fundamental injustices of its economics and distraction.

    Sports in a city is often a common language for so many and me, because we have so little of a common language otherwise. And ubiquitous media, its saturation, drowns us in a sea of ticket stubs that tally our attendance at the trough of community/communion.

    Who wrote? ‘for the modern man, reading the daily newspaper (and sports page) replaces daily prayer.’ It captures the point.

    So, for me, no alcohol purchased in Cuyahoga county!

    (When I told that to a council member, he said that outside the county the alcohol is not therefore less. I said that’s not the point, is it?)

    Awhile go now, Greg Easterbrook in the Atlantic covered how gross (pun intended) the NFL is in its economic extortion-game. It is worth a read to remind us: How the NFL Fleeces Taxpayers.

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