Archive | CRL RSS feed for this section

Money For Nothing

15 Jan

I was happy to have a chance to talk about the downtown arena, and in particular some of the questions asked in the City of Edmonton’s recent poll of Edmontontians, on the Rob Breakenridge show tonight. Audio is here.

Advertisements

The CRL

22 Nov

“Enter into discussions with the Katz Group of Companies and Northlands on a framework for the financing, not including an increase in current property taxes, and operations of a potential downtown arena and entertainment project.”

Motion passed by Edmonton City Council on July 21, 1010

“Council’s direction expressly provided that the funding model must not increase current property taxes.”

Background handout for CoE’s downtown arena public consultations

“I’ve said it a hundred times and I’ll say it another hundred times, we’re not going to raise taxes to pay for this.”

Mayor Stephen Mandel, March 26, 2008

All bolds mine.

Is the CRL a tax?

Yes. CRL stands for “Community Revitalization Levy.” In the United States, a similar procedure is known as a TIF (Tax Increment Financing). In both cases, a government collects (levies) property taxes in a designated area and uses them to pay off the debt incurred on a new development or project. In this case, the CRL would be used to pay off a taxpayer-funded downtown arena for the Edmonton Oilers.

Is the CRL a property tax?

Yes. Municipalities in Canada collect the majority of their revenues through property taxes. With property tax revenues, the City of Edmonton finances services such as road maintenance, parks, swimming pools and recreation centres, public libraries, garbage collection and police services.

Is the CRL a new tax?

Yes and no. When the CRL is created, the City draws a line around an area and labels it as a Community Revitalization Levy Zone. In this instance, that zone will be around the downtown arena and the projected downtown arena district. The City then determines what it currently collects in property taxes in that area, and guesses what it will collect from the new development that is supposed to occur alongside the arena. The difference between these two amounts is what the City will then use to pay off the debt it incurred in financing the downtown arena.

But as both Councillor Don Iveson and Scott Hennig of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation have pointed out, the taxes collected in the CRL zone are not new taxes. It is not bonus money. It is merely redirected money. Consumers do not spend extra money with the addition of new businesses in a city. They merely shift their spending habits from one business to another. Instead of going for a beer and a burger at Coliseum Steak and Pizza on game night, for example, or for Mac-N-Cheese at Blue Plate Diner, they will go for wings and pizza at the new Boston Pizza near the new arena. Spending that occurs around the downtown arena doesn’t occur in addition to spending in the rest of the city, therefore. It occurs instead of spending in the rest of the city. The same goes for development. If, for example, a new hotel goes up downtown, it means that a new hotel doesn’t go up in the west end. It also means that another hotel, say a hotel around the current Rexall Place, loses business, which means they shut down, which means the City no longer collects those property taxes. In the end, the CRL is zero-sum. The gain of new taxes in the CRL Zone will be offset by the loss of taxes outside of the CRL Zone.

Will the CRL lead to an increase in property taxes?

Assuredly. The taxes collected with a CRL aren’t just redirected taxes. They are also taxes that are now locked into paying for only one thing: the debt on the downtown arena. The City still has to pay for things like potholes, police, snow removal, community hockey rinks and libraries. Except it now has less tax revenue to draw from, as taxes have been redirected and locked into paying off the arena debt. This means that shortfalls in revenue from the creation of the CRL have to come from another place. Since the City can only tax property, it really only has one choice: property tax increases.

Are there other issues with the CRL?

Yes. They include:

  • The line the City draws in creating the Community Revitalization Levy Zone is completely arbitrary. It can be as small or as large as the City wishes it to be. The danger here is that the City can make the CRL Zone larger, likely as a result of insufficient tax revenue from around the arena district itself, and cut even further into tax revenue available for the City’s core services. The City has already admitted as much, in fact, noting that the size of the CRL Zone will in part be determined by “the funding requirements for the arena.”
  • If the City borrows the money to pay for the downtown arena, and there is a shortfall in CRL revenues from a lack of development and “revitalizing,” it is on the hook for that shortfall. That means the taxpayer is on the hook for that shortfall. During the July 21st meeting between City Council and the Katz Group, several Councillors asked the Katz Group what guarantees they could make about development in the arena district, and what role they would play in covering any shortfall in tax revenue in the CRL Zone. The Katz Group would not guarantee anything other than the $100 million that Mr. Katz has pledged to put towards the development of the district, and would not agree to cover any shortfall in tax revenues in the CRL Zone. Ultimately, even if the Katz Group guarantees development the CRL is still just a tax shift, but there is an added risk of even more debt for the City, and therefore taxpayers, without it.
  • Establishing another CRL could put a strain on the City of Edmonton’s ability to offer core services. The Province recently approved the establishment of a Community Revitalization Levy for the Quarters District in the east part of downtown. Yet it has the same issues as the arena CRL: it’s a tax that’s going to be redirected and locked into one single development project. Without property tax increases, that’s yet another drain on the City’s ability to offer core services. It is a dangerous game for cities to get into the habit of utilizing CRLs. It is not free money, without consequence. One only has to look at the City of Chicago to see tax-increment financing gone wild.
  • In allowing the City of Edmonton to institute the arena CRL, the Province of Alberta will be letting the incremental increase in education property taxes in the CRL Zone go to the City to help pay off the arena debt. Unless the Province subsequently raises its own taxes, that means less money is going into the Alberta School Foundation Fund (ASFF), less money is going to school boards, and less money is being used educate students.

Conclusion

The City of Edmonton’s proposed Community Revitalization Levy is money that is coming out of the public purse. It is a tax. It is also a tax that will lead to property tax increases for the citizens of Edmonton. To deny this is to deny economic theory so thoroughly established that one might as well be denying that the world is round. If Council decides to pursue this option in financing an arena for the 721st richest man in the world, it should at least be honest with Edmontonians about what it is in fact doing. It is taxing them to pay off the debt incurred in the building of a downtown arena for Daryl Katz and the Edmonton Oilers. Mr. Katz will receive all of the revenues from the arena, as well as the increased value of the team that will come with this sweetheart of a deal. In addition to being taxed, residents will take on the further risk that comes with downtown development and “revitalization” being nothing other than an optimistic guess.

These are the realities of the Community Revitalization Levy. Council is on the record saying that a funding model for a new downtown arena must not include an increase in current property taxes. Since the word “current” could be used to justify property tax increases a day after an arena CRL is approved, let’s hope that Council isn’t being cute with their language. The majority of Edmontonians do not want their tax dollars being used to fund a downtown arena, either now or in the future. The Mayor has been all over the map when it comes to the use of taxpayer dollars to finance a downtown arena. Hopefully his colleagues on City Council will take the more honest, straightforward approach.

Doubleplusungood

2 Aug

The public sector isn’t paying for it. The fact of the matter is it’s a $400-million arena. [Oilers owner Daryl] Katz is putting in $100-million. That leaves $300-million. We’ll come up with some sort of a package for a ticket tax, which is probably another $120- to $125-million. That’s generated from people who use the facility — a user fee, which is not, I don’t think, unreasonable.”

Mayor Stephen Mandel

Bold is mine.

Call it dumb, delusional or intentionally deceptive, but the one thing you definitely can’t call Mayor Stephen Mandel’s recent statement to the National Post is accurate (I’m going with a dab of the delusional spread across a big misdirect sandwich). Even the math in his own quote leaves around $175-180 million to be covered by someone not named Daryl Katz. We could give Mayor Mandel the benefit of the doubt and expect the Tooth Fairy to cover the remainder of the bill, or we could look at the following tidbits and draw a more logical conclusion:

  • The Katz Group sat in Council chambers a mere eleven days ago and said that a 100% private financing model was not a viable economic option, and that they wanted to arrange a deal with the City, one where the City would help finance the arena, own the arena, and then let the Katz Group collect all the revenues from the arena
  • City Council has since come up with 140 questions for city administration, the Katz Group and Northlands, and they all seem pretty clear on the idea that the Katz Group is looking for public investment
  • City administration, the Katz Group and the Mayor himself have all advocated using a tax known as a Community Revitalization Levy to help pay for the arena
  • Substantial public subsidy, including the CRL, was also recommended in City Shaping, the report that was commissioned by the Mayor and City Council
  • At this point, the City looks to be in charge of collecting revenue from both the ticket surcharge and the personal seat licensing, with no explanation as to who will make up for any revenue shortcomings if those two plans don’t work. Considering the Katz Group is unwilling to cover the shortfall if either the CRL or downtown development don’t go as intended, I think it’s unlikely that they’ll agree to be on the hook if the user-pay ideas don’t pan out
  • The Katz Group requested that the City join them in asking both the Federal and Provincial government for infrastructure funding
  • The City has already spent “less than $100,000″ of taxpayer dollars on the City Shaping document
  • The City already subsidizes the Oilers to the tune of several million dollars a year, providing them cheap rent ($1 a year), concession revenues, parking revenues, ticket surcharge revenue, ownership of the naming rights for the building, and a free ride on property taxes.

So to summarize: existing subsidies and opportunity costs associated with the current Rexall Place, public expenditures to build the new facility and surrounding infrastructure, public ownership of the new facility, public risk and exposure on the CRL and user-pay ideas, opportunity costs from the turning over of revenues from a city-owned and paid-for facility, opportunity costs from the CRL and the direction of taxes towards the arena, and new taxes to cover the mandatory redirection of taxes from the CRL to the arena. If that isn’t public sector involvement and financing, I don’t know what is.

Mayor Mandel has done this type of…let’s call it meandering with language…before, not only on the question of spending tax dollars to finance the arena, but also on the question of whether or not he wanted it located downtown. So it’s clear that the best way to get him to say something different from what he’s said before is to ask him the exact same question. But I don’t get why he’s continuing with this particular line of spin, since about 200 people sat in Council chambers two Wednesdays ago and heard the Katz Group say the only way they could finance a new building was by using public dollars, and the only reason there was a meeting in the first place is that the use of public dollars and public sector involvement are on the table. It does, however, reinforce the fact that, despite the public opinion and independent economic research that point in the other direction, the Mayor is still stubbornly in favour of a publicly-funded downtown arena. I’d also argue that it reinforces how disingenuous he has been throughout this entire process, and that he should be held to account for it in October, but that’s a whole other post and a whole other story.

Checked Against Delivery

28 Jul

For interest’s sake, the transcript of Paul Marcaccio’s (EVP & CFO of Katz Group) speech to Edmonton City Council on July 21, 1010. Transcribed by me, using video from the City of Edmonton (click on item 5.4 in the minutes to see the video).

“Thank you, Ted, and good afternoon everyone.

I will be making some brief comments, which touch on two critical issues, sustainability and funding.

Now, there’s a lot of talk, and from our perspective much concern, about the long-term sustainability of the Oilers in Rexall Place. This stems primarily from the revenue model which we are currently subject to. NHL hockey teams earn Hockey Related Revenues, and non-Hockey Related Revenues. The Oilers Hockey Related Revenues are limited, primarily because they play in the second oldest and second smallest arena in the National Hockey League, where revenue opportunities are lower than other NHL teams, and they’re effectively capped. The Oilers are located in the smallest media market in the National Hockey League. Size of market determines the pricing for broadcasts, advertising, and sponsorship revenue opportunities. Non-Hockey Related Revenues, which includes revenues from concerts, entertainment events, and other arena-based activities, which are ancillary to those generated by the anchor sports team tenant.

Not only do the Oilers earn no, non-Hockey Related Revenues, they are the only team in the NHL that does not receive the non-Hockey Revenues from the facility in which they play. For sake of a close to home comparison, in Edmonton, non-hockey revenues go to Northlands. In Calgary, they do not go to the Calgary Stampede Inc., they go to the Calgary Flames organization.

It is for these reasons that we find ourselves talking about the Oilers long-term sustainability in Rexall Place. Currently, Daryl Katz has had to subsidize the team by several million dollars in each of the past two years in order for the team to break even. Under the Oilers current operating model at Rexall Place, a model in which we do not control the non-Hockey Related Revenues, that trend will likely continue in each year between now and 2014. Sustainability can only be addressed by a new arena, and having the same operating model as the Calgary Flames and all of the other NHL teams.

Now let me make a few comments on funding. We believe a new downtown arena can be funded with a mix of public and private investment in a manner that benefits the city of Edmonton without an increase in property tax rates as a direct consequence. What we hope to do is build on what you have heard from the city administration, and to communicate our optimism that, starting with their proposed funding model, and having the opportunity to work through the various elements with the city administration, we will arrive at a workable solution.

Picking up on Daryl’s comments, the Katz Group would invest $100 million dollars directly into the construction of a new arena that would be owned by the City of Edmonton. We agree with the city administration report that an additional amount of funding can be financed by the City of Edmonton using a CRL, with all of that amount being repaid over time. We hope to have the opportunity to assess and to agree with city administration on what this amount can be, based on all of the new development in and around the proposed arena district. The prospects of success for the CRL would be greatly enhanced by Katz Group’s plans to lead the development of the district, for which we have earmarked a minimum of an additional $100 million dollars of investment over time.

We understand Mayor Mandel’s belief that there should be some element of user-pay, or a ticket-tax, in the funding model, and we are prepared to have that discussion with city administration, though for the reasons I touched on earlier, there is natural limits to what we can agree to as relates to revenue streams. The balance of funds, including funds for related infrastructure, would come from other sources, including federal and provincial governments. In summary, we are aligned with the direction set by city administration, subject to reaching agreement on the various financial estimates inherent in that structure, and the specific business terms of the arrangement. We believe this can work for everyone.

Thank you, and I’ll ask John to complete our closing remarks.”

——–

The Katz Group’s presentation text, including remarks from Paul Marcaccio, found  here. There are some differences between what was written and what was actually said, including this doozy from the written remarks:

“As a result, hockey is a business where the operator does not have much discretion over its most significant cost item.”

The whole section around that line is one that needs proper dissecting, but I’ll leave it for others to discuss. I’m a bit tired from transcribing. You wouldn’t believe how many times I had to hear the Coldplay song at the end of AEG’s “Corporate Sizzle” presentation. I may never recover.

***Update*** The Annotated Paul Marcaccio, via mc79hockey.

It’s A Trap, Pt. 3

27 Jul

There has been plenty of coverage of last week’s meeting between City Council and the Katz Group (the Edmontonian has a great roundup of all the stories), but I want  to share my notes from the meeting, as well as some additional thoughts. Parts 1 and 2 of these notes are here and here.

  • I’m going to save most of the CBA, profitability and relocation stuff for another post, but I will make a few comments here. It’s really no surprise, but what became even clearer in the meeting between the Katz Group and City Council is that this issue isn’t really about the size and age of Rexall Place, or the revitalization of the downtown core. What we finally saw in the Katz Group’s presentation and in their responses to City Council is that this whole issue is about money, specifically taking away the revenue streams from Northlands and placing it in the pockets of Daryl Katz. Why? Because Daryl Katz isn’t making enough money off of his investment. Bob Black admitted to Councillor Iveson that building stadiums is bad economics, but they still want the taxpayer to take on that risk so that Katz can get more revenue for himself out of luxury seats, concert tickets and other non-Hockey Related Revenue (non-HRR). Paul Marcaccio complained that the long-term sustainability of the Oilers is threatened because they aren’t getting enough non-HRR. This is nonsensical, as non-HRR can’t be used to run the Oilers. Only Hockey Related Revenue (HRR) is counted towards the salary cap, the signature piece of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). So while Daryl Katz may be losing money because he overpaid to buy the Oilers and isn’t getting enough non-HRR to keep him happy, the Oilers aren’t. The Oilers may be losing money because the CBA they so badly wanted isn’t providing them the “cost certainty” they thought it would, because they have been forced to share their revenues with weaker NHL franchises south of the border, or because they’ve continued to spend to the utmost limit of the salary cap while icing a horrible team that doesn’t bring in any extra revenue through playoff appearances. They may even be losing money because of some fancy accounting and the way they’ve set up their financing structure. But the idea that they can’t compete because they aren’t getting enough non-HRR is simply incorrect. Any and all of those reasons for not being able to compete are not the business of Edmonton taxpayers. They are the business of NHL owners, players and the Office of the Commissioner. If the Oilers are having a hard time making ends meet, I suggest they take it up with their fellow owners, the NHLPA, and Gary Bettman.
  • Bettman’s silence in all this has been very puzzling, actually. One of his owners had one of his henchman basically say the NHL’s current CBA sucks, and had another one imply that his team will relocate if they don’t get a publicly-funded arena and all it’s revenues, and Bettman didn’t say a word. He didn’t say a word when that same owner went to Hamilton and said he’d pay that city a million clams if it didn’t get an NHL franchise in four years, either. Does that sound like Gary Bettman to any of us? The guy who goes off anytime anyone attempts to question the viability of the NHL and its franchises? The guy who has already stopped Jim Balsillie from moving three franchises to southern Ontario? I don’t think even an implied threat to move to Hamilton is credible. Nor do I believe the Oilers when they say this is a small hockey market and that they need more non-HRR to remain competitive. But I definitely find Bettman’s silence…interesting.

It’s A Trap! Pt. 2

27 Jul

There has been plenty of coverage of last week’s meeting between City Council and the Katz Group (the Edmontonian has a great roundup of all the stories), but I want to share my notes from the meeting, as well as some additional thoughts. Part 1 of those notes can be found here.

  • Despite statements from the Katz Group that they wanted all the revenues that Northlands currently receive, that they have lost money for seven of the last ten years, that they will not sign a new lease for the current Rexall Place when it expires in 2014, that taxes raised from the CRL would offset the costs of the arena, and that the arena is good for the city because it will spur downtown revitalization, they repeatedly refused to answer any questions from Council on the involvement of Northlands in any future discussions, refused to open their books to prove that they have lost money, denied that they were threatening to relocate the franchise, and refused to be put on the hook in the case of either the CRL failing or their promised development not occurring. Basically they came in, made a bunch of claims and demands, and then stammered and stonewalled when they were challenged, all the while pontificating on the value of partnership.
  • I have no doubt that the Katz Group made City Council even angrier than they already were with their antics on Wednesday, and right now I really can’t see an arena proposal getting more than three votes in its favour, but if the goal of the Katz Group is to put out their side of the story and hope no one really follows up on it, it just might work. Watching that meeting, and seeing the coverage that followed from it, it has become pretty clear that neither Council nor the mainstream media (MSM) has a very firm grasp on the intricacies of this issue. Aside from Councillor Don Iveson, I’m not convinced any of the councillors know the difference between Hockey Related Revenue (HRR) and non-Hockey Related Revenue (non-HRR), for example. Four or five of the Councillors’ votes are dependent on swinging a good deal for Northlands, which I don’t think is any better for taxpayers than swinging a good deal for Daryl Katz. I don’t remember Councillor Batty’s questions, that’s how inane and toothless they were. All I recall is her praising Katz and his family for their commitment to the city. And Mayor Mandel is so deep into this that he was actually answering his own questions to the Katz Group during the meeting. He might as well be consulting for them at this point.
  • As for the MSM, positive strides have been made. Outlets, reporters and editorialists have done a much better job at questioning the claims made by the Katz Group and other downtown arena advocates. But they are still reporting errors and making poor, discredited arguments. For example, the Canadian Press (and Hockey News) reported that Rexall is the second-oldest arena in the NHL, when a simple Wikipedia search would tell them that it’s actually the fourth oldest (it will become the 3rd oldest once the new arena goes up in Pittsburgh this year). It’s a falsehood that’s been repeated by the Katz Group—Patrick LaForge and Paul Marraccio both said it during the meeting with City Council—and is being reported without verification (I’ve seen it in the Edmonton Journal, as well). In his article following the meeting Graham Hicks wished that the City had “a financial adviser with oodles of arena expertise to separate fact from fiction,” and then in the next breath said, “seems the city has little choice but to accept the Katz Group’s arguments based on generalities, and get on with the challenge of financing an arena.” That’s like me not being sure if my sore leg is sore from a workout or from gangrene, and chopping it off before going to a doctor. And then there’s Mark Spector, who not only repeats the “second-oldest” error, but also claims that arena districts have revitalized downtowns in “city after city across this continent.” That’s a bold claim, one even the most ardent arena advocate in Edmonton hasn’t made. I don’t buy the arguments about Columbus, Los Angeles and San Diego, but even if I did, I could name a lot more cities where these projects haven’t worked than the three where they supposedly have. Pittsburgh and Cincinnati alone have four stadiums between them that have done very little to revitalize their cities. Spector’s a hockey reporter, a special breed of journalist that rarely bites the hand that feeds them stories, so my expectations weren’t that high in terms of objectivity. In fact, I wasn’t even that surprised that his claims about the healing powers of sports arenas, brain drain from the UoA, and Edmonton getting dangerously close to becoming Winnipeg all sounded awfully familiar. But his article, along with the other examples I gave, is just another example of how poorly traditional media normally cover these stories. This is an important issue, one that has tons of implications for this city, and it would be nice to see certain members of the Fourth Estate cut out the boosterism, do a little research, and be a bit more diligent in their jobs.

It’s A Trap! Pt. 1

27 Jul

There has been plenty of coverage of last week’s meeting between City Council and the Katz Group (the Edmontonian has a great roundup of all the stories), but I want to share my notes from the meeting, as well as some additional thoughts. I’ve broken the post up into three parts, and will be posting the other two parts later today.

  • City of Edmonton (CoE) General Manager Simon Farbrother started off the meeting by presenting three options that the City can use to help finance the arena: a ticket surcharge, seat licensing, and a Community Revitalization Levy (CRL). I’ll leave it to others to explain the CRL and why it’s bad for taxpayers, but I do want to share a couple of thoughts on the seat licensing idea. As for the ticket surcharge, frankly, I’m completely in favour of it. It’s a user-pay system that I fully support. What I don’t understand is why collecting that ticket surcharge should be the City’s job. The Oilers should raise ticket prices, collect the charges, and pay off the arena themselves.

  • With the seat licensing idea, I think people in Edmonton should probably know a little bit more about what it is, and the possible change in atmosphere at Oilers hockey games that might result from its inception. Simply put, a personal seat license (PSL) means that the holder has the right to buy season tickets for the seats they have licensed. This means that rather than just paying for the season tickets, the customer also has to buy a license giving them permission to buy those season tickets. Basically it’s double-dinging the season ticket holder, and it will assuredly price some Oilers fans right out of their seats. PSLs are very popular in the NFL, where die-hard fans wait for years to get their hands on season tickets. In Green Bay, for example, where there is an estimated 40-year waiting period for season tickets, the Packers allow holders to pass on their PSL in their wills. Two NHL cities have PSLs at this time, Columbus and Toronto, and anyone wanting to know what a hockey fan with a PSL looks like should just watch the early game on Hockey Night in Canada. You don’t see many “Folks on the #8 bus” at Leafs games nowadays. It should also be noted that PSLs are often used to finance new stadiums, and that they often fail in that regard for the simple reason that they make the cost of attending games too prohibitive. More often than not, guess who is on the hook for covering the difference when that happens? Hint: the answer doesn’t rhyme with “boner.”
  • Daryl Katz began the Katz Group’s presentation, delivering a short, scripted statement outlining his vision for a new arena as well as offering a public apology to City Council for the way the Katz Group has handled this issue. Initially I thought this public mea culpa was the entire reason the Katz Group were there, as their statements seemed long on rhetoric and short on specifics. Turns out I was wrong.
  • Beginning a trend that would continue throughout the meeting, Katz declared that it was in fact former CoE General Manager Al Mauer who approached the Katz Group about the possibility of building a new downtown arena. He talked about the value of the Oilers in the community, as well as its hockey history, ignoring the fact that the legacy he spoke of happened in the arena he so desperately wants to abandon. Most importantly, Katz committed himself to the following: signing a location agreement to keep the Oilers in Edmonton (later established to be a location agreement to keep the Oilers in Edmonton if and only if they were playing in the new, publicly-funded downtown arena), a $100 million investment into the building of the new arena, as well as at least a $100 million investment into the surrounding development. Katz also tried to sell the idea that, because he had bought the team for $200 million dollars, the grand total of his investment in the city was actually $400 million dollars. Why he didn’t throw his house, his backyard hockey rink, the Capitals and all the Rexall stores in town into the equation and then tell Council they owed him an IOU is beyond me. Clearly we all owe him some arena cheddar for his charitable act of buying a private, for-profit business for himself.
  • The painfully awkward “Corporate Sizzle” presentation from Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) Vice-President Ted Tanner was a highlight for me. I’ve had “and this is my sister, Jerry Sizzler” in my head ever since. It was voiced by Morgan Freeman, priiicks!

Opposites Attract

23 Jul

I don’t know who is MC Skat Kat and who is Paula Abdul in this scenario, but either way, Councillor Don Iveson and Scott Hennig of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation are in agreement about the proposed plan to use a Community Revitalization Levy (CRL) to finance a new downtown arena. In the U.S., CRL’s are called TIFs (Tax Increment Financing), and a simple search for them on Field of Schemes will tell you how often they are suggested as tools for financing stadiums in the U.S. (all the time), and how often they are a bad deal for taxpayers (all the time). This is an important piece of the arena debate, and I encourage everyone to read the pieces by Don and Scott, then watch their dance-off on the roof of what appears to be Tim Burton’s Gotham City. Just a natural fact!

Have a great weekend, everyone.