Star's Hypocrisy On NFL Players' Negotiations With Team Owners

Over the past several years, this blog and others have consistently demanded that the Colts and the Pacers be required to produce audited financial statements as a condition to their continued receipt of public subsidies. I advanced this argument on numerous occasions during the recent negotiations with the Pacers that culminated in an additional $33.5 million subsidy for the team over the next three years. The Indianapolis Star always accepted at face value the Pacers' claim that they were losing tens of millions of dollars every year. It was reported as fact because the team's billionaire owners and their representatives claimed that's what their books showed. Now the Star is rooting for efforts of the NFL players to get access to all NFL team owners' audited financial statements to establish how much money they're making or losing in their ongoing labor negotiations for a new contract. A Star editorial today reads:

When National Football League teams are pitching for public funds for a new stadium, they say it's you -- the taxpayers -- who will share the riches from all those booked hotel rooms and restaurants brimming with fans that boost wages and tips and tax coffers.

When the teams are riling up the masses for another season, they say it's you -- the fans who buy the tickets, the jerseys and the beer -- who make it all worthwhile.

So it's within bounds to say the public has a vested interest in the NFL's labor dispute between billionaires and millionaires. No one knows if the NFL, which left a record economic footprint of $9.3 billion in 2010, will go on full lockdown.

As a smaller market with a mostly publicly financed stadium, and the host of next year's Super Bowl, Indianapolis is acutely exposed to the risk of a lost season. The National Journal rates Indy at the top of a list of public investment by NFL cities.

And the Colts were able to make the sweetheart deal for the $720 million Lucas Oil Stadium without revealing numbers to justify their purported financial distress. NFL players, like taxpayers, are locked out of real finances. They want teams to open their books before they'll consider giving owners another $1 billion in concessions. Taxpayers should root for the players; a win by them could help cities get more financial information when teams come looking for public funds.

So where was the Star when we were rooting for the taxpayers to get the Colts and Pacers books opened up to the public to aid the taxpayers in negotiations with the teams? Nowhere. It is curious that the editors would now be rooting for the players who only earn the ridiculous salaries they earn playing their sport because the taxpayers are compelled to pay billions in taxes to subsidize their profession. Yes, NFL players are more important than taxpayers to the editors of the Star. Just another reason to cancel your subscription to the Star.