Bill puts Arizona on track to end public financing of pro sports stadiums

Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks and owned by the Maricopa County Stadium District. /Photo by Justin Emerson/Cronkite News

By Ben Giles | Arizona Capitol Times

Arizona is at the forefront of a new legislative effort to outlaw public dollars from financing private stadiums for professional sports teams.

Arizona Capitol Times reports bills pushed by the conservative Americans for Prosperity are being introduced at state capitols to block money for new stadium construction, maintenance or promotions of existing sports facilities.

Even if Petersen’s SB1453 becomes law, it wouldn’t take effect until at least 24 other states join the cause.

In Arizona, that would mean no public money for the possibly $187 million in stadium repairs the Arizona Diamondbacks are seeking for Chase Field. The team has threatened to leave if Maricopa County officials don’t provide money to repair a stadium they argue is deteriorating.

That’s exactly the sort of threat that Sen. Warren Petersen, R-Gilbert, wants to neuter.

“You always have this argument that we have to subsidize because everybody else is subsidizing, and if we don’t subsidize then we don’t get any sports teams,” Petersen told Arizona Capitol Times.

The bill – being circulated by Americans for Prosperity with the help of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a nonprofit that writes model Republican legislation – works as a compact between states.

“The goal is to get enough states to hold hands and move forward on this so that they can’t be picked off one-by-one by sweet-sounding offers from professional sports teams,” said Tom Jenney, senior legislative adviser for Americans for Prosperity Arizona.

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February 2018