PITTSBURGH – Reps. Jim Gregory (R-Blair) and Tim Bonner (R-Mercer/Butler) today called for an audit and Independent Fiscal Office review of the rental payments being made by the Pittsburgh Pirates and Philadelphia Phillies under an agreement linked to state funding. Additionally, they urged that information be collected about the credits used by the teams to reduce or eliminate their rental payments.
Gregory and Bonner are seeking co-sponsors for legislation that calls for a two-pronged approach to the sports entities’ finances –
- an audit by the Pennsylvania Office of the Auditor General of the financial calculations made by the Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles.
- an additional study from the Independent Fiscal Office of the regional economic benefits resulting from the taxpayer-funded baseball parks for the Pirates and Phillies.
“As we enter the 20th anniversary of this funding, we are mindful the original intent was the possible negative economic impact of a major league team leaving the state. The teams have stayed and benefited from taxpayers’ investments. It is important we review the increased tax revenues, the production of jobs and collateral spending that has resulted from these two ballparks being in our state,” Gregory said, saying there needs to be accountability for the direct impact as well as the patronage of area restaurants, hotels and other hospitality-related businesses.
Together, Pennsylvania’s Office of the Budget and the Department of Revenue are required to file a financial report with the General Assembly every 10 years. That report is meant to be based upon financial information received from the ball clubs as to whether any rental payments are owed from the professional sports teams.
The first report was made to the General Assembly in 2012, and the next report is due this year.
Under the Capital Facilities Debt Enabling Act of 1999, the stadium entities were each required to make rental payments of $25 million every 10 years, minus certain allowable deductions based on the amount of additional tax revenue generated by the stadiums. From 2002-2006, the state contributed $320 million in capital funding toward four new stadiums in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The justification for the initial legislation was the anticipated increase in tax revenue and economic growth for the regions.
“We need to ensure that the deductions specified in the law against the rental obligations for the use of PNC Park and Citizens Bank Park are financially accurate, as well as determine the economic impact of the baseball clubs on each of their respective economic regions,” Bonner said.
Bonner said the Legislature, on behalf of taxpayers, entrusted the baseball clubs with being good stewards of the baseball stadiums and making smart decisions about how best to strengthen regional economic development through professional sports.
Because the 2022-23 Legislative Session ends Nov. 30, Gregory and Bonner plan to gather support for the proposal and introduce a bill early in the new term to require the audit.