The Taxpayer Superdome

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USA Today reported yesterday  that it cost $185 million to repair the Superdome in New Orleans.  A paltry $15 million of this amount was provided by the NFL.  Apparently, neither the owners of the Saints football team nor the trustees of Tulane University, whose college football team also uses the Superdome, provided any money at all.  According to Doug Thornton, regional vice president of the private management company for the Superdome (which is owned by the State of Louisiana), the remaining $170 million

"was from the public—assistance program from FEMA on insurance disasters to cover state property."

In other words, the nation's taxpayers paid to "restore" the Superdome (which now enjoys several new and improved features) through funds allocated to FEMA for disaster relief.  (HT:  Debbie Schlussel)

Naming rights have been used to remodel or build stadiums all over the country, but the cost has never approached $170 million. For this sum, US taxpayers surely deserve permanent naming rights. How about calling it "The Taxpayer Superdome" and requiring broadcaster to refer to it as "Taxpayer Field" during football game broadcasts? That way, we would at least get something for our money.

According to the article, Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco opposed initial plans to demolish the Superdome, deeming the stadium "essential to the state."  Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue also considered it "essential" that the NFL not leave New Orleans.  Nevertheless, almost the entire cost of restoring the Superdome was paid by the 98.5% of Americans who live outside Louisiana.  Surely, the State of Louisiana, the NFL, and Tulane University could have —— and should have —— paid the rebuilding costs.

Instead, FEMA disaster relief money was used as a government slush fund to benefit the already rich and powerful.  What an outrageous use of taxpayer money.  But hardly surprising.  As we've repeatedly seen (and public choice theory predicts), government officials routinely take money from the general public (through mandatory and coercive taxation) and "earmark" it for projects that benefit special interests.  But unlike private enterprise, which is subject to constant scrutiny by the public and government alike, government spending all too often escapes political and economic accountability by hiding behind the facade of being in the "public interest."

While the Superdome situation seemingly is less egregious than the infamous "bridge to nowhere," in principle it reflects the same moral corruption at the heart of democratic government.  Another reason why the default position of a healthy citizenry must be for fewer taxes, less spending, and smaller government.

Steven M. Warshawsky  9 22 06

USA Today reported yesterday  that it cost $185 million to repair the Superdome in New Orleans.  A paltry $15 million of this amount was provided by the NFL.  Apparently, neither the owners of the Saints football team nor the trustees of Tulane University, whose college football team also uses the Superdome, provided any money at all.  According to Doug Thornton, regional vice president of the private management company for the Superdome (which is owned by the State of Louisiana), the remaining $170 million

"was from the public—assistance program from FEMA on insurance disasters to cover state property."

In other words, the nation's taxpayers paid to "restore" the Superdome (which now enjoys several new and improved features) through funds allocated to FEMA for disaster relief.  (HT:  Debbie Schlussel)

Naming rights have been used to remodel or build stadiums all over the country, but the cost has never approached $170 million. For this sum, US taxpayers surely deserve permanent naming rights. How about calling it "The Taxpayer Superdome" and requiring broadcaster to refer to it as "Taxpayer Field" during football game broadcasts? That way, we would at least get something for our money.

According to the article, Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco opposed initial plans to demolish the Superdome, deeming the stadium "essential to the state."  Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue also considered it "essential" that the NFL not leave New Orleans.  Nevertheless, almost the entire cost of restoring the Superdome was paid by the 98.5% of Americans who live outside Louisiana.  Surely, the State of Louisiana, the NFL, and Tulane University could have —— and should have —— paid the rebuilding costs.

Instead, FEMA disaster relief money was used as a government slush fund to benefit the already rich and powerful.  What an outrageous use of taxpayer money.  But hardly surprising.  As we've repeatedly seen (and public choice theory predicts), government officials routinely take money from the general public (through mandatory and coercive taxation) and "earmark" it for projects that benefit special interests.  But unlike private enterprise, which is subject to constant scrutiny by the public and government alike, government spending all too often escapes political and economic accountability by hiding behind the facade of being in the "public interest."

While the Superdome situation seemingly is less egregious than the infamous "bridge to nowhere," in principle it reflects the same moral corruption at the heart of democratic government.  Another reason why the default position of a healthy citizenry must be for fewer taxes, less spending, and smaller government.

Steven M. Warshawsky  9 22 06