(Buffalo, NY) In ancient times, aspiring politicians in Rome would sponsor elaborate games with gladiators to entertain the city’s residents in an effort to win favor and votes. Fast forward a couple thousand years and you find the same behavior on display – local and state politicians here have agreed to fund a $271 million stadium deal for the NFL’s Buffalo Bills.
Whereas in ancient Rome, politicians would often contribute their own money to win personal fame and votes, in our times the money that politicians give away belongs solely to the public. If that weren’t bad enough in itself, the deal gives state politicians control of a luxury suite in which to watch future NFL games. This being the Empire State, anything imperial is not completely out of place.
The deal, which gives away $227 million of public funds through 2022, sailed through the Erie County Legislature with unanimous approval – at a time when federal benefits to the unemployed are cut, state aid to the disabled is slashed, and Buffalo’s city schools are just dreadful.
From a purely cost-benefit viewpoint, it makes no sense why a monopoly franchise with large profits should be subsidized by the public, especially in these troubling economic times. Our politicians seem to be more interested in winning favor with the masses than making difficult decisions in the public interest.
Maybe they’ll implement a tradition where the governor gives a thumbs up or down – like Caesar in the movies, to decide the fate of the losing team on game days. Now that just might motivate the Bills franchise to win a Superbowl.