Corporate Welfare for the Washington Redskins

Richmond-Times Dispatch columnist A. Barton Hinkle describes a massive corporate welfare handout that the Washington Redskins just got from Virginia’s state and local governments:

The announcement that the Washington Redskins will move their training camp to Richmond was met with mixed emotions, as they say. It’s certainly great news for Virginia’s capital city. Virginians across the state are happy the Skins will not decamp to Maryland. On the other hand, a fair number are shocked at the public funds being lavished on the team.

The Old Dominion will give the Skins $4 million; Loudoun County (home to the team’s headquarters) will give them another $2 million, and Richmond will kick in $400,000. All this for “the third-richest sports franchise on the planet behind British soccer giant Manchester United and the Dallas Cowboys,” as Richmond Times-Dispatch columnist Jeff Schapiro noted a week ago….

Football fans will be delighted to have the Skins in town a few weeks out of the year. But when it comes to the subsidy, even some longtime fans can’t help agreeing with State Sen. Chap Petersen—a season ticket holder—when he called it “corporate welfare at its finest.”

The official rationale for the huge subsidy is promoting economic development. But, as Hinkle points out, studies overwhelmingly show that sports team and stadium subsidies don’t actually produce any net development; they mostly just transfer wealth away from other, often more productive, activities.

The only thing that can be said for the Redskins is that they still have a long way to go before they get as much corporate welfare as the New York Yankees.