Tuesday, October 27, 2009

No such thing as a free stadium

The Houston Sports Authority, after telling voters that their taxes would not be affected by the new wave of stadium-building, is now having to go back on its word as balloon payments have come due on $117 million in bonds.

The bonds for these playpens for the rich owners of Houston's sports franchises were insured by MBIA - a firm that was downgraded by analysts. The downgrading causes investors to turn around and run away. The bonds were subsequently bought up by JP Morgan Chase and converted into a loan. Now the piper is calling.

The only options seem to be acquiring a line of credit either through JP Morgan Chase or UBS -- but either option would cost the sports authority $7 million a year.

So now Harris County taxpayers are going to be asked to pony up to pay down the debt on stadiums that were paid for with public funds yet handed over to private interests. It's called reverse welfare and the only beneficiaries are Drayton McLane, Leslie Alexander and Bob McNair.

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