In European soccer leagues, teams finishing at the bottom of the standings are “relegated” to the next level down in the minor leagues. Likewise, taxpayers are often relegated when their tax dollars are gifted to private developers.
The Krause family, owners of a professional soccer franchise in Italy with another coming soon to Iowa, have plans to develop a stadium district in downtown Des Moines with hotels, restaurants, and a 6,300-seat stadium.
The issue is not whether having a stadium district and professional soccer team would be enjoyable. It is the fact that the Krause family recently sold a successful business, Kum and Go, for an estimated 2 billion dollars. With that influx of cash, why should taxpayers help fund the project?
If you’re wondering what the price tag is for a stadium district, the stadium alone will cost about $95 million.
The state of Iowa is in as an investor for around $24 million, Polk County is in for $7 million, and the city of Des Moines has promised a hard-to-calculate number of tax incentives. Whatever that number, the developers STILL want $13 to $16 million more from the city to cover increased expenses.
We have to ask:
If Iowans don’t provide taxpayer-funded incentives, would the project still happen? They already have one stadium in Europe; we think they can probably pull one off in Des Moines.
Should taxpayers contribute to a billionaire-backed venture? Think about the last time the city, county, and state decided to chip in for one of your ideas.
Is this actually a good deal for the taxpayers? It doesn’t seem like contributing even more money for the same stadium adds up to a better payoff for everyone in Central Iowa.
This is one of the largest examples of government picking winners and losers. Similar developer incentives and public support of projects that should stay within the private sector happen in communities across Iowa far too often. Recent smaller examples we have seen include entertainment districts and recreation centers.
More about the Des Moines soccer stadium incentives: