Horses Escape, Obama Closes the Barn Door

Our president is about 30 years too late.

In his latest budget proposal, Barack Obama will call on Congress to put an end to tax exempt funds to finance stadiums.

This would have been really bad news for most of the zillionaire sports owners around the country who have benefited from what may be the biggest and worst political scandal in America over the last 35 years.

Hey, Mr. President, the horses just escaped, would you mind closing the barn door?

According to a story in Bloomberg News back in 2012, when the New York Giants were about to open the season against the Dallas Cowboys in their new stadium, there were 21 owners whose teams were playing in new or renovated stadiums built in the last 25 years with tax free public borrowing.

The story let Giants fans know that they had already helped Jerry Jones pay for his $1.2 billion, 80,000 seat stadium in Arlington, Texas.

How? Because every American taxpayer is forced to pay for new stadiums that are subsidized by tax free borrowing.

According to Bloomberg, tax exemptions on interest paid by municipal bonds for stadiums cost the U.S. Treasury $146 million a year. By the time all the publicly financed stadiums are paid for, taxpayers will have paid $4 billion.

And, of course, back in 2000, President Obama, when he was an Illinois state senator, was more than happy to vote in favor of the $587 million renovation of Soldier Field in Chicago.

That was one of the all time worst examples of government theft of taxpayer dollars to subsidize a billion dollar sports team.

Here’s what University of Chicago sports economist Allen Sanderson said at the time:

“If we started out to build the ugliest stadium in the country for the most money with the fewest alternative uses in the worst possible location, we’re pretty much there.”

The future president was part of one the worst taxpayer rip offs in history.

In Novemeber of 2000, while 99% of media attention was focused on Bush, Gore and the hanging chads in Florida, the Illinois legislature rammed the Soldier Field proposal through.

No referendum.

No public hearings.

One poll of 1,200 registered voters showed 66% opposed to the plan.

During a presidential debate in 2007, Obama defended his support of the Soldier Field debacle by saying that it led to economic development in Chicago.

Pretty amazing for a guy who is so quick to quote the consensus of scientists on climate change, to ignore the consensus of economists who believe that sports facilities and major events almost never lead to economic development.

Meanwhile, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is trying to talk the NFL into bringing the Super Bowl to his city and he wants to add 5,000 more seats to Soldier Field to reach the NFL’s required 65,000 capacity.

Who will pay for them? Who cares?

Meanwhile, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, who is emerging as a strong candidate for the Republican nomination for president and who sells himself as a strong fiscal conservative, recently came out in support of a nice new building for the Milwaukee Bucks.

In their thank you statement to the governor, the Bucks promised “an economic catalyst for the entire state.”

George Will and Charles Krauthammer, two of the country’s most prominent conservative commentators are also two of the country’s biggest baseball fans.

Both spend lots of time at Washington Nationals games in their beautiful, new, government financed, voter-opposed ball park.

I did a lot of Googling and couldn’t find a column by either one that questioned the funding or called the Nationals beneficiaries of corporate welfare.

Meanwhile, back in Illinois: In December the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, by a vote of 4-3, made 30 year old Lou Bertuca its $160,000 per year Executive Director.

The four yes voters were all outgoing Governor Pat Quinn’s appointees. Beruca, who has no experience with sports facilities, was Quinn’s campaign manager.

It never ends.

SteigerWorld Podcast | Ep. 1

Welcome to the world of John Steigerwald

My first podcast with the “Pittsburgh Podcast Network” has arrived. We will be doing this on a weekly basis every Wednesday.  The podcast is Gluten Free and will be a mix of mostly sports, culture, some politics when appropriate, a guest here and there and I am bringing back “Stag at the Movies” which was a very popular segment I did with Ken Laird on  Trib Live Radio.

I hope you enjoy this and thank you for the continued support.

PODCAST TALKING POINTS:
– About the Podcast
– Terrible decisions in sports
– Noll versus Belichick
– The Super Bowl in Pittsburgh
– “Why we may be Doomed”
– Don’t call me Mr. Steigerwald
– Bruce Jenner
– “Stag at the Movies”

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* Produced at talent network, inc. in Pittsburgh, Pa. by Frank Murgia and Wayne Weil.
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TOM BRADY BEST EVER (IN THE DINK AND DUNK ERA)

I’ve always had a hard time accepting Tom Brady’s greatness.

But then I also question the greatness of Jerry Rice.

Believe me, I know that both are great players, but I always question the mob mentality that is created in the media when they decide to declare this player or that player the greatest of all time.

Jerry Rice might be the greatest of all time, but not because of his numbers.

There are lots of other factors involved. Including the offense he played in and the rules that were — or weren’t– in place during his era.

I don’t think Tom Brady is the best quarterback of all time. In fact, I don’t think he’s close and I don’t care how many Super Bowls he’s won.

I do think he’s the greatest dink and dunk passer of all time and I give Bill Belichick most of the credit for that.

Belichick tied Chuck Noll last night with his fourth Super Bowl win.

And in a strange and roundabout way, Belichick can thank Noll for helping him tie his record.

Noll put together the best team in NFL history by exploiting the rules that were in place in the ’70s.

Bump and run.

Head slap.

Offensive lineman couldn’t use their hands.

He put together defenses that were so good that the league had to pass rules to overcome them.

And he built his offense around the running game because he saw the futility of trying to win with the pass against the defensive rules that were in place.

The end of the bump and run gave birth to the West Coast offense. Bill Walsh, when he was offensive coordinator at Cincinnati, was smart enough to realize that, if defenders couldn’t touch receivers more than five yards beyond the line of scrimmage, he was going to make a living throwing seven and eight yard slants.

Hello Joe Montana. Have you met Jerry Rice?

Belichick flamed out in Cleveland when he was a defense first kind of guy.

BY the time he got to New England, after a few years as a defensive coordinator, he had had learned what offenses did to drive him crazy.

Dink. Dunk.

Over the past few seasons rule changes and enhanced enforcement have made it almost impossible for defenses to stop the short passing game.

The New England Patriots are the greatest dink and dunk team of all time and Tom Brady is the greatest dink and dunk quarterback of all time.

That’s not to say that Brady can’t make all the throws. Of course he can. Anybody who has seen him play knows that.

The point is that he is rarely asked to make the tough throw.

In his first five Super Bowls, Brady had attempted 21 passes longer than 20 yards.

He completed one of them.

In the win over the Seahawks, I counted 10 passes that went 10 or more yards beyond the line of scrimmage.

The first one was intercepted.

He also made an absolutely perfect “long” pass to Gronk for the Patriots second touchdown.

Of the first 8 passes beyond 10 yards, two were intercepted, one went for a touchdown and the rest were incomplete.

When Seattle punted the ball away with four minutes to go and a three point lead, I knew that the game was at least going to overtime.

The Patriots offense -because of the design – is almost impossible to stop when the opposing defense can’t afford to give up the big play.

The Seahawks had to force the Patriots to take a lot of plays and had to concede the short stuff.

And Belichick was more than happy to dink and dunk his way to the end zone.

Tom Brady did his job. But his job is so much easier than so many quarterbacks who came before him.

And the credit for that goes to Bill Belichick.

And maybe Chuck Noll.