When people say something is not going to cost the City anything. It is. In this case, it appears that, in addition to funds for infrastructure and other development, the cost of the land, and maintenance costs, the Dynamo stadium is going to cost the City a cool $3 Million in the form of sales tax rebates over the span of 30 years. On a yearly basis, that's $100,000 per.
Compared to the City's annual budget, forecast to be $120 Million in 2011, supporters would say that's small potatoes. Considering that the City is looking down the barrel of a severe budget deficit, critics would say that any expenditure of this type is unwise. Since neither side is willing to bend on this, opposition to the Dynamo Stadium being compared to the severest form of racism toward the Hispanic population (which is odd considering the Euros are MAD about footy as well), it falls to the casual footy fan to find a compromise solution.
Fortunately, I have one*. And I think it's a winner. It's worked for our school teachers, it's being proposed for our community colleges so why shouldn't it work for our professional sports teams? I'm referring to Pay for play. Which is something I think would work well for our sports franchises, and allow the City to get out from under dog stadium deals for under-performing teams. (Yes, I'm looking at you Texans)
Here's how this would work:
- The team gets back nothing unless they actually make the playoffs. If they miss the playoffs then 100% of sales taxes revert back to the City plus interest. Given the recent records of Houston's sports teams, Houston stands to gain from this agreement.
- If the team finishes the season with a sub-.500 record, they have to pay interest plus penalties. The calculation for this could be modeled on the State's Oil & Gas penalties as calculated by the RRC or the GLO. Trust me, those are fairly stout (despite anti-oil and gas folks trying to say they're not. Go look them up online some day.) With the Texans alone it's quite possible that this whole Public employee pension mess could be fixed, plus a rainy day fund.
- If the team makes the playoffs, they get 1% of sales taxes refunded to them. This would be in play for the Rockets, occasionally, and probably the Dynamo, but after that it's pretty much a wash. The Texans? Nope, the way I figure it they won't be in line for this until at LEAST 2020. The Astros are right out as well. The Aeros don't count, let them get their own stadium.
- The Sales tax bonus would increase as the team moved forward each round in the playoffs, increasing 1% as the teams moved forward. Winning a League Championship would qualify the team for an additional .5% bonus that could be rolled-forward at the teams discretion to cover future losses due to bad management, etc.
The feeling behind this is as follows: If the team is doing well then more games are played, more sales tax is charged, but the City feels better about the team and is more willing to see them get a little back. Since, in Houston, playoffs are something rare, I see the City doing well with this agreement. Plus, the teams now have an incentive to do well, sparing us the Bob McNair "well at least we're still selling out" mentality. Losing will have a cost to the owners, not be a method of cost control. (bonuses, stadium salary etc.) It will also work to spare Houston the seventh circle of Hell feeling we've had with Kubiak. If Kubiak is costing McNair interest plus penalties, he's finally gone.
It's a win/win.
And the HCA consulting fee for implementing this would be pretty low as well. Don't mention it Houston.
*OK, not a serious one, but I've seen worse floated