masthead-highres

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Like Welfare Queens of Yore

Another big business wants a handout from taxpayers:
The owner of the Washington Wizards has asked the District for $50 million to renovate Verizon Center, and city officials are discussing whether to honor the request and pay for it with a tax increase on tickets, officials said yesterday.

Wizards owner Abe Pollin, who built the $220 million sports arena with his own money in Chinatown nearly a decade ago, wants the extra money to upgrade all or some of its 110 luxury suites and replace its outdated scoreboard, District officials said. Those and other improvements would be designed to attract special events, such as championship basketball and hockey games.

Pollin's company argues that the city should give the arena a financial boost as a reward for its role as a catalyst of the downtown renaissance, city officials said. The 20,674-seat Verizon Center has served as the anchor of the Chinatown area's revival, a transformation into a bustling hub for restaurants and night life...
According to the article, by the Washington Post's Nikita Stewart and Thomas Heath, businessman Abe Pollin wants the taxpayers to give him $50 million dollars so he can upgrade his "outdated" (yet less than ten-year-old) scoreboard and upgrade his 110 skyboxes. Pollin plans to increase the rental price of said skyboxes from $100,000 to $450,000 annually, but the article doesn't indicate -- presumably because it is not true -- that Pollin plans to share any of that $49.5 million in loot with the taxpayers.

Idiotically, the DC government, which shouldn't be buying Mr. Pollin anything more substantial than lunch, is considering the proposal. The Post says one of the scenarios under consideration is increasing the ticket tax at Pollin's arena rom 5.75 percent to ten percent. Does it not occur to anyone that Mr. Pollin could simply increase his ticket prices by the same amount, and leave the taxpayers out of it?

It's bizarre but probably predicable that some private businesses run around with their hands out like welfare queens of yore, but it is bizarre and disturbing that government officials pay them any mind. Hey government: Zip up your purse once in a while, whydon'tja?

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:54 PM

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