I just cannot understand why Bob McDonnell and the Commonwealth of Virginia are basically subsidising the Washington Redskins and giving them $6.4 million in subsidies ($4mil from VA, $2mil from Loudoun county, and $400k from city of Richmond) for some newfangled idea to upgrade the Loudoun Redskins facility and move training camp to Richmond.
It is a bizarre move that is hard to understand. First, let's understand this. The Redskins is one of the most profitable franchises in sports. The Skins and Dan Snyder are worth close to $1.6 billion. They have just upgraded the Loudoun-based Redskins Park by adding a practice bubble. They have a sh*tload of money and I don't understand why Virginia needs to be paying for things they can plainly afford.
Barton Hinkle has McDonnell's case for this:
Is there anything to be said on behalf of the Skins handout? Yes—and McDonnell said it in a recent interview. While conceding “it’s not the role of government to subsidize sports,” he argued that the Redskins generate more than $200 million in economic activity in Virginia, along with nearly $10 million in taxes. The Skins’ departure would be “a huge economic hit.”
Hmmmm. Spending tax money in order to collect more of it is the dubious rationale of those who have been in government too long. As for the economic benefits of sports subsidies, they are hugely overblown—as a library full of studies from sources as ideologically diverse as the Cato Institute and the Brookings Institution can attest.
Regarding lesser subsidies like the one going to the Skins, it is helpful to place them in the broader context of other handouts—such as the many given to Hollywood production companies (last year Virginia gave billionaire Steven Spielberg $4.6 million to film part of “Lincoln” here), corporate giants (e.g., the $6.9 million Virginia doled out for Microsoft), and smaller beneficiaries such as wine makers and beekeepers.
I get the rationale of trying to keep businesses in your state by giving them reasons to stay, and same goes for the new businesses. I actually don't have as much a problem with some of the handouts to the film industry, wineries, and major corporations that have moved here from other states. Its worthwhile for the state because they actually do bring jobs with them. Lets be real, it is the government redistributing our money (dare I say, "wealth"). But I also understand how the real world works with governments competing with each other for businesses, and I like that.
But the Redskins? Where are they going to go? Training camp? This different. This is not arguing for using state dollars to attract businesses to the commonwealth to bring tangible jobs. The free market works both ways and we should accept that. You can't on the one-hand argue for states competing with each other for businesses and then turnaround that throw millions of dollars at a sports franchise that is wetted to this area by its very name. The Skins, in the past, have had training camp both in Carlise PA and in Frostburg MD and I don't think it broke Virginia. Like Hinkle said, justifying tax subsidies to generate more tax revenue seems backwards in thinking.
This is probably an unpopular position but I am 1,000% against this. The Redskins don't need our money, they have plenty. The Washington Redskins would not break the economy of Virginia if training camp went somewhere else. And if they leave Redskins Park because citizens wouldn't fork over millions to an entity worth billions and growing, well that's how the market works. Virginia has been played by Dan Snyder, and played beautifully. Its hard to drive on the roads I drive on everyday and justify to myself the Governor sending millions to Daniel Snyder.
I hope someone, anyone, in the General Assembly stand up to this . . . I have to say it . . . crony capitalism.