New York – State Enabling Legislation for Community Owned Sports

Date: 15 May 2009 | posted in: governance | 1 Facebooktwitterredditmail

In 1998, Assembly Bill 684 – the New York State Sports Fan Protection Act -was introduced by Assemblypersons Richard Brodsky and Richard Gottfried as a means to acquire the Yankees if owner George Steinbrenner followed through on his threats to move the club to New Jersey. The bill would establish a State Sports Authority, which could condemn a franchise through the legal practice of eminent domain and sell shares of it to the public if either a) the cost of a stadium to the public exceeded the value of the franchise, or b) the franchise takes action to move from the state.

Brodsky re-introduced the bill in January 2001


Summary of The New York Sports Fan Protection Act (1998)

PURPOSE:The bill is intended to ensure that New York keeps the professional sports franchises already situated here, either by making necessary investments or by condemning a franchise that may leave the state. The bill would ensure that New York financially benefits from any sports related investments, by requiring an analysis of the return on investments. Finally, the bill requires that any state supported facility, franchise or event be accessible to the public through both reasonably priced tickets and free broadcast television coverage.

EFFECTSOF PRESENT LAW WHICH THIS BILL WOULD ALTER: This bill would consolidate responsibility for oversight of state investments in professional sports into one Authority. The Authority would be empowered to provide or deny state support, condemn professional franchises under certain circumstances, and guarantee that state supported events are accessible to the public via reasonably priced tickets and adequate free broadcast television coverage.

SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: The Authority is established as a public benefit corporation with a board comprised of seven members including the Comptroller, the Director of the Budget, two members appointed by the Assembly, two members appointed by the Senate and one member appointed by the Governor.

POWERS AND DUTIES OF THE AUTHORITY: The Authority may condemn a franchise and sell shares of it to the public if either a) the cost of a capital project exceeds the value of the franchise, or b) the franchise takes action to move from the state.

TheAuthority will have exclusive authority over state investment in sports facilities including bonding, construction and improvements and will supersede the authority of any other state agency as it relates to sports facilities. If necessary, the Authority may act to deny or withdraw any state support provided to a sports facility.

TheAuthority will ensure that the state receives a return on its investment by weighing any investment against resulting increase in tax revenue and economic activity.

Where a capital improvement is made on a facility used by a profitable franchise, the Authority may require the franchise to contribute to the cost of the improvement.

The Authority is charged with responsibility for ensuring that state supported events are accessible to the public through both reasonably priced tickets and free broadcast television. If access is insufficient, the Authority may withdraw support.

JUSTIFICATION: Sports events, public sports facilities and professional sports franchises are a significant and important part of the economic health and social welfare of the state and its communities. Investment in such facilities and franchises is a matter of statewide concern and should be handled coherently and responsibly. The Sports Facility Authority, created by this bill would be charged with protecting the public interest and insuring the continued existence and economic growth of these franchises.

Asignificant amount of state funds have already been invested in sports related projects. Before any further investments are made, these issues must be considered in light of the economic and social benefits provided to state residents. In addition, if state funds are made available, state residents should have access to the events through reasonably priced tickets and free broadcast television coverage.

Professionalsporting events are so important to the state and local economies and to community spirit, that the state should use its powers of condemnation to ensure that the franchises stay in New York.