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Tampa Bay Bucs Ownership Has Never Been Richer, Insists on Constant Blackouts Anyway

In 1995 when the Glazer family purchased the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for $192 million ($298 million in 2012 dollars), their family net worth was about $300 million ($465 million in 2012 dollars). In October, 2012, with the Bucs now valued at slightly over $1 billion, the Glazer family net worth is about $3.6 billion, as reported by Forbes recently. It is clear that the Glazer family is thriving financially, and in no small part because of the Bucs’ financial success.

In 1995 the median household income in Hillsborough County was $32,650 ($50,607 in 2012 dollars). In October 2012, the median household income is now $45,560 (see here – this figure was computed using 2011 number multiplied by 1.021 – inflation rate for year-to-date in 2012). Note that real median household income has dropped about 10% from 1995 to 2012. It is clear that the Tampa Bay area is not faring well with the weak economy, particularly since 2008.

The Hillsborough County citizens have paid for the full care and feeding of Raymond James Stadium – initial cost of $168 million ($240 million in 2012 dollars) – from its inception in 1998 and will continue to do so until 2026. This translates to about $15 million per year in direct subsidies to the Glazer family.

Also, consider that the Glazer family receives $2.3 million per year from Raymond James for stadium naming rights, and last fiscal year received $2.85 million for non-Bucs events held at Raymond James Stadium. This means that after paying their annual $3.5 million rent to Tampa Sports Authority, they are left with an additional positive cash flow of $1.65 million.

Readers will rightfully point out that the Glazer Family does give money back to the community via The Glazer Family Foundation Inc. In January 2009, the Glazer Family Foundation was posed the question: “How much money in total has the Glazer Family Foundation contributed in since its founding? Please itemize by cash, tickets, and merchandise.” The family’s response was: “As a private foundation, we are unable to release specific financial details.”

The National Center for Charitable Statistics’ website shows that for the year 2010 total revenue for the Glazer Family Foundation was about $2.8 million. And then there is the Glazer Children’s Museum, which cost $21 million to build. The Glazer Family Foundation contributed $5 million of the $21 million. The remaining $16 million came from other contributors including $3.5 million from Hillsborough County, although one would never intuit that fact based on the name of the museum. So based on limited data it looks like we taxpayers ship about $17 million per year to the Glazers who send back maybe $3 million per year. I would gladly pay $3 to get $17!

One can convincingly argue that the two main reasons that the Bucs are now valued at almost 3.5 times the Glazers purchase price (in 2012 dollars) is because of the incredible sweetheart deal that they have with Raymond James Stadium and of course because of the ever more generous network TV contracts. Rhetorical question – Does any other professional sports franchise in North America have a better stadium deal than the Bucs/Glazers?

All but two of the Bucs home games have been blacked out on local TV since 2010. It has been quietly reported that the Glazer family did buy up tickets during the 2009 season to prevent blackouts. Why this was not loudly reported and why they discontinued this good deed, starting with 2010, is a mystery to many of us.

For the current 2012 season, the Glazer family could have prevented both of the blackouts for about $100,000 per game. This cost cannot be computed precisely because the Bucs/Glazer family will not share how many tickets short of the 85% non-premium seat threshold they are at 72 hours before game day kickoff time. Now consider that for the 9/29/2012 FSU/USF football game, played at Raymond James Stadium, just one day before the 2nd Bucs home game that was blacked out, the Glazer family will realize income from concessions and parking of about $380,000 (preliminary number furnished by TSA on 10/5/2012). As Jackie Gleason would say: “How sweet it is” – for the Glazer family, of course, not for the Tampa Bay community, sadly.

So, because Bucs ticket sales fall a couple thousand short of the 85% non-premium seat threshold, hundreds of thousands of citizens in the Tampa Bay area are deprived of seeing the game on TV. The vast majority of these citizens cannot afford to attend Bucs games in person. For all of these citizens that live in Hillsborough County, they have and continue to pay for the full cost of Raymond James Stadium, yet they can’t watch the Bucs games played in this stadium on TV!

Where is the Glazer family’s sense of fairness? Why can’t they give back just a little bit to a community that has given them, and continues to give them, so very, very much?

Will too much ever be enough for the Glazers?

Scott Myers is a Bucs fan who has lived in Tampa for the last 20 years. He is married with four children and works in IT.

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