The president of the International Olympic Committee lifted the curtain on sports spending during a speech in China this week. Thomas Bach said the International Olympic Committee has to partner up with politicians who run this world.
Bach’s revelation is not surprising. Since 2005, the International Olympic Committee has demanded Presidents, Prime Ministers, Chancellors and other leaders bow to them and beg for the Olympics. British Prime Minister Tony Blair genuflected in front of them in 2005 and gained the 2012 Summer Olympics for London. Russian strongman Vladimir Putin also had to go before the IOC in 2007 to win the 2014 Winter Games for Sochi. The IOC has permanent observer status at the United Nations.
In the United States, it is more or less accepted that the 1950 Milwaukee city council and mayor shifted the way owners got new stadiums and arenas. In 1950, Milwaukee built a new ballpark with the hopes of luring a Major League Baseball franchise. Two baseball owners looked closely at Milwaukee and eventually the National League allowed Boston Braves owner Lou Perini to move his Braves to Milwaukee in March of 1953. Perini was virtually given the keys to the stadium in exchange for a minimal rent.
Other cities noticed as did sports owners, municipalities were willing to build stadiums and finance the building costs taking the burden off of owners to fund construction and then pay for maintaining the facility.
In 1986, the United States Tax Code was revised and allowed an owner to negotiate a lease with a municipality and take 92 cents out of every dollar generated within the facility leaving eight cents on every dollar spent in the place going to the municipality to pay down the stadium or arena debt.
Bach may be getting a bit nervous about governments putting up more for what has become a very costly two weeks sports event—the Olympics—and how countries have lost millions upon millions of euros or Australian dollars on the event. Norwegians don’t really want the 2022 Winter Games as a group even though Norwegian politicians are pushing the idea. But Bach is right, sports and politics go hand in hand with the IOC and other sports groups having their hands out hoping for municipal dollars or euros or yen to pay for facilities and then keep most of the money generated in those facilities.
This article was republished with permission from Evan Weiner. The original podcast was published on Sports Talk Florida and can be viewed by clicking here.