It’s always about the money.
Sports and politics go hand in hand. Sports owners and organizers need political support to get big events. In Ohio, sports lobbying groups want politicians to open the state vault and send them money helping sports organizers attract events such as the National Football League Draft in Canton at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in either 2019 or 2020. After all, the 2017 NFL Draft in Philadelphia was estimated to have brought $95 million into the city although no one really knows what that event was worth as economic impact studies are little more than guesswork. Canton wants that economic impact.
There is legislation floating around the Columbus legislature that has been approved by the Ohio house, HB 531, which would change Ohio’s contribution to either sports owners or organizers in going after big events. If the state goes along and Governor John Kasich signs onto the bill, Ohio would take sales tax revenues from sports events and place the money into a fund that the state could use to help organizers land events. The Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, Cleveland Cavaliers, Cleveland Browns, Cleveland Indians, Columbus Blue Jackets, the Greater Columbus Sports Commission, Cincinnati Reds, FC Cincinnati, Columbus Crew, Columbus Clippers, Memorial Tournament, Ohio Machine Lacrosse, Mid-American Conference and the Ohio Hotel and Lodging Association are pushing the state senate to pass the bill. Ohio has a grant program designed for organizations to host major sporting events. The maximum grant is $500,000. Ohio has paid out $2 million since 2014 for three events in Cleveland and another three in Columbus. Earlier, Ohio allocated another $500,000 for Cincinnati to host the 2015 Major League Baseball All-Star Game. The $500,000 cap would end if HB531 becomes law. Bill proponents claim Ohio is at a disadvantage as 34 other states kick in money to attract events. They want state money.
Evan Weiiner is the author of eight books.