Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

N.J.'S $7M Super Bowl Tax Rebate Stirs Anger

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

N.J.'S $7M Super Bowl Tax Rebate Stirs Anger

Article excerpt

Lawmakers coming to grips with an $807 million budget shortfall faced another head-scratcher Thursday: New Jersey's tax giveback to the NFL, one of several big-ticket public costs to hosting the Super Bowl in the Meadowlands.

In the run-up to the game, Governor Christie highlighted the impact the Super Bowl would have on New Jersey, calling it "a major win for the state, its tourism and economic development." The NFL has also argued the economic benefits of the game far outweigh the costs for the host state.

One of those costs for the host state this year was a $7.5 million sales tax rebate paid to the league. It's a standard NFL requirement for hosting the Super Bowl - game tickets and parking must be exempted from state sales tax.

"Wow," said Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee Chairman Paul Sarlo, D-Wood-Ridge, when he heard the state treasurer's explanation for the payback.

Sen. Anthony Bucco, R-Morris, called the reimbursement "ludicrous," saying the treasurers of every state should band together and all refuse to abide by the NFL's tax requirement.

"Have the Super Bowl in the Ukraine next year," Bucco said.

The giveback to the NFL was a requirement New Jersey's host committee agreed to when it accepted the offer to host the 2014 Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford. But that didn't stop lawmakers on the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee from complaining about it during a meeting Thursday as they and Christie are trying to balance the budget with weeks remaining in the fiscal year.

State Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff told them it's a "prisoner's dilemma" for the state since the NFL requires all states that host the Super Bowl to forgo the revenue, which is generated off some ticket sales and parking that would otherwise have gone into state coffers. If New Jersey balked, another state likely would have stepped up and played host to the game instead.

"Do I think it's a great thing, do I like it as a matter of policy? For better or for worse, this is the NFL's bottom-line requirement," he said. "Every other state that has had the distinction of hosting the Super Bowl has had to agree to the same basic provisions."

"I leave it to others to comment as to whether that is fair, justifiable, necessary or appropriate," Sidamon-Eristoff said.

An NFL spokesman did not return a request for comment Thursday, but league officials historically have pointed to what they claim is hundreds of millions of dollars in economic impact from Super Bowl week in the host communities. Northern host cities also benefit more than cities like Miami or San Diego because the end of January and early February is one of the weakest tourism times for cold-weather climates.

But in the days leading up to the Super Bowl earlier this year, concerns were raised that many of the biggest events were being held in Manhattan instead of New Jersey. …

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