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Report: NFL teams earned $400M from NFL revenue as public incentives escalate

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(The Center Square) – The National Football League earned more than $13 billion and distributed more than $400 million in 2023 to each team from national revenue, Sportico reported.

The record distribution comes as teams across the league continue to push for public incentives for new stadiums and renovations.

Most recently, Charlotte approved $650 million of tax money for a renovation at the Carolina Panthers’ field owned by hedge-fund billionaire David Tepper. A day later, Jacksonville approved $775 million of taxpayer funds toward a renovation of the Jaguars’ Everbank Field and an additional $25 million incentive for a development near the stadium.

The 2023 payments were a 6% to 8% increase from 2022 from the NFL, Sportico wrote. The revenue includes “national media rights, league sponsorships and shared revenue and royalties from the league’s various affiliates and subsidiaries, such as NFL Properties, NFL International and NFL Enterprises.”

Economists who have studied publicly funded stadium deals have repeatedly shown the deals do not bring the promised returns and do not spur other economic activity in a community.

In the past two years, the Tennessee Titans received a promise of $1.27 billion in public taxpayer funding for construction of a new stadium, set to open in 2027, and the Buffalo Bills were approved for $850 million in public funding toward a $1.4 billion stadium.

During negotiations, the teams repeatedly state they will not reveal the financial details of their annual operations, but teams that receive public funding for new stadiums or significant renovations consistently see a significant increase in their valuations.

Many of the new stadiums or renovations occur at the same spot as the previous stadium.

As economist J.C. Bradbury of Georgia’s Kennesaw State University has pointed out, renovations to existing NFL stadiums at the same spot do not improve economic conditions.

“There is no legitimate policy justification for devoting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to upgrade an NFL football stadium,” Bradbury told The Center Square. “The research on this is clear and unambiguous: sports stadiums are not salutary public investments.”

The Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs and Chicago Bears are all in the process of attempting to receive large public incentives for new stadiums or significant renovations.

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