Where Dennis Kucinich and I Agree:

I don't often find myself agreeing with Dennis Kucinich. But I have to commend him for his opposition the the massive state and federal subsidies for the construction of the new Yankee Stadium:

A congressional panel has taken tough swings at the New York Yankees and New York City government over a new stadium for the Yankees. But neither the team nor the city budged from their positions on the $1.3 billion structure.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich said Thursday he found "waste and abuse of public dollars" in the financing of the new stadium under construction in the South Bronx.

Kucinich is an Ohio Democrat who heads a House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee. He charged that city officials misrepresented to the IRS the value of the property, helping them to get special tax deals from the federal government and in effect dumping the cost of construction onto taxpayers.....

"In the case of the new Yankee Stadium, not only have we found waste and abuse of public dollars subsidizing a project that is for the exclusive benefit of a private entity, the Yankees, but also we have discovered serious questions about the accuracy of certain representations made by the City of New York to the federal government," Kucinich said.

The panel's investigation found "substantial evidence of improprieties and possible fraud by the financial architects of the new Yankee Stadium," he added.

The criticism highlights tensions felt nationwide as governments increasingly support stadiums for profitable pro sports teams with multimillion dollar payrolls.

As I discussed in this post, construction of the new Yankee Stadium is being subsidized with up to $450 million in public funds, plus an additional $941 million in government-backed tax-exempt bonds. This is the largest government subsidy for stadium construction in the history of the United States, and there is no good justification for it.

I first criticized the Yankee Stadium deal in this 2006 post, where I summarized the extensive evidence that there is no public benefit justifying subsidies for sports stadium construction. In fairness, what the Yankees have done is similar to what many other pro sports teams have gotten away over the last several decades. The Yankee Stadium situation is unusual primarily because of its massive size. Hopefully, Kucinich's hearing and others like it will succeed in exposing this kind of sports stadium socialism to public scrutiny and eventually put an end to it. But I am not optimistic.

NOTE: As a Red Sox fan, I'm obviously unhappy about government subsidies to the rival Yankees. However, I would oppose similar deals for any team, including Boston teams. For example, I was against various proposals that have come up over the years to build a new government-subsidized stadium for the Red Sox. I love the Red Sox, but I could not love them half as much loved I not liberty more.