Focus On What Matters Most

Prioritize Funding for Schools, Health Care and Affordable Housing, Not Sports Stadiums.

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Initiative 91 says no more tax subsidies for professional sports stadiums. It is about setting priorities, about spending tax dollars on the things that matter most.
To get an Initiative 91 petition to sign, click here.

With professional basketball now pitting sports tax boosters against the people’s pocketbooks, Citizens for More Important Things is leading another fight for fiscal sanity in stadium funding. The existence of Initiative 91 has already significantly impacted negotiations between the Sonics and the City. After Initiative 91 passes, there will be no more giveaways, period.

For conservatives, not being able to say no to the extravagance of professional sports means government will never say no to anybody for anything. Moderates wonder at the gullibility of elected officials when doused with the snake oil of pro-sports as a tool for economic development. Liberals are angry at a government that chronically underfunds education and social services but has a blank checkbook for rich boys with big toys.

These are difficult battles. Most, in America, are won by the pro-sports moguls. At least in Washington State, because of the efforts of thousands of Citizens For More Important Things contributors and volunteers, they have not been able to run roughshod over sane public policy and the taxpayer’s pocketbooks.

Citizens for More Important Things has a single agenda–focus on what matters most, on more important things, and leave sports entertainment to the private sector. We cross partisan boundaries, and bring together normally opposing voices. We simply question the reasonableness of any government that would subsidize private entities whose average player salaries are in the millions of dollars per year. Teachers should be so lucky.

The supporters of publicly subsidized sports franchises argue that pro-sports bring people together as communities, to see and enjoy the art of sport. No doubt. But there are many things in public life that are great for any city. At some point, we have to weigh the cost, and set priorities, in light of the fairness of the subsidy to these very well funded private enterprises. This is what Initiative 91 does. It makes pro-sports teams pay their own way, and fairly share the cost.

Stadiums and professional sports are powerful symbols. Voters, the public, sports fans, the media all pay close attention to these debates. Because the outcome not only changes skylines when sports promoters win, the shadow of the debates falls across public hearings and discussions of public spending for schools, highways, and many other more important things. The obvious, unanswered question is nagging and simple: If they can pay for stadiums, why can’t they pay for what we need?

Formed in 1995, Citizens for More Important Things has long been a voice of reason in the debate over spending tax money for professional sports subsidies in Washington State. We are thankful to all who have helped us, and who are helping this year.

Call, email, write. Send money. We need your assistance. Without it, consider your tax dollars will likely be stuffed somewhere, through someone else’s golden hoop, and most likely, that professional basketball player will already have earned millions, long before he got to yours.