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Baltimore Ravens, NFL No Strangers to Taxpayer Money

They won the Lombardi trophy in last year’s Super Bowl, and now the Baltimore Ravens have another prize: $130,000 in taxpayer money to promote Obamacare.

As previously reported by Watchdog Wire, the deal was made between the Ravens and Maryland health officials.

According to the deal, the state will use the Ravens to push Obamacare on television, radio, social media, and the team’s website and newsletter. The National Football League (NFL) was asked to help promote the law but turned down the Obama Administration.

NFL teams are no stranger to receiving taxpayer money. As previously reported by Eric Boehm of our sister site Watchdog.org, The NFL and its teams get plenty of taxpayer money.

The league is technically a non-profit 501(c)6 organization, a tax status for “business leagues, chambers of commerce, real estate boards, boards of trade and professional football leagues, which are not organized for profit and no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual.”

Critics of the NFL, like Brian Frederick, Executive Director of Sports Fans Coailtion, think such a tax exemption is absurd.

“It’s obviously notable that only professional football leagues are included here, as opposed to all sporting leagues,” Frederick writes on his website. “The exemption for football stems from lobbying efforts by [then-NFL Commissioner] Pete Rozelle in the 1960’s to earn an antitrust exemption for the merger of the NFL and AFL.”

On top of the tax exemption for the league, individual teams enjoy multimillion dollar tax subsidies for their stadiums. Many of those stadiums are then given exemptions from property taxes.

According to a report from the Heartland Institute, Maryland taxpayers lost money on stadium financing that was intended to save them money. The Maryland Stadium Authority received a total of $21 million in subsidies in 2009, yet still operated at a loss of $10.5 million.

The League of Fans, a sports watchdog group, says 87 percent of the Ravens’ M&T Bank Stadium was paid for by a state subsidy. Taxpayers paid $200 million of the total $229 million price tag.

Josh Kaib

Josh Kaib is the Assistant Editor of Watchdog Wire. Twitter: @joshkaib

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