dan-gilbert (1)

Depraved Owner of the Week: Dan Gilbert

The Bulls triumphed over the Cavaliers on Monday night; let’s take a look at how Cavs ownership is triumphing over Cleveland taxpayers.\n\nName: Dan Gilbert\n\nNet Worth:  $3.9 billion\n\nTeam: Cleveland Cavaliers\n\nForbes Team Valuation: Value $434 million; Revenue $128 million; Operating Income $18.6 million \n\nTenure: Since 2005\n\nArena: Quicken Loans Arena (1994)\nTotal Capital Cost (2010): $328 Million\nPublic Capital Cost (2010): $285 Million (87%)\nSource: Judith Grant Long, discount viagra medical Public-Private Partnerships for Major League Sports Facilities (Routledge)\n\nCost of Game for a Family of Four (2012-13): $287.60\n\nOngoing Subsidies:\n\nThe naming rights to the taxpayer-built arena were included in the private deal Dan Gilbert cut with former owner Gordon Gund to buy the Cavs, pharm and so the city received no compensation when Gilbert renamed the arena after his online mortgage company, Quicken Loans, in 2005.\n\nSince the facility is technically owned by the public (but the Cavs receive the revenue it generates), Gilbert pays no rent or taxes on the building.  In 2009, a Cleveland journalist estimated the Cavs’ property tax savings to be a little less than $4 million annually, 55% of which would go to schools.  By the way, with Gilbert’s personal net worth of $3.9 billion, he could pay the current annual property tax rate on Quicken Loans Arena for about a thousand years.\n\nTo maintain Quicken Loans Arena as well as Cleveland’s MLB and NFL stadiums, Cuyahoga County residents pay a ‘sin tax’ on alcohol and cigarettes that amounted to $25 million last year.  80% of the tax revenues came from cigarette sales, and 50% of smokers in the county make less than $25,000 a year.  In other words, poorer people pay more than their share to benefit sports team owners and fans who can afford to attend pro sporting events.  These taxes are set to expire in 2015, but the legislative and rhetorical groundwork is being laid for their extension. \n\nThe Quotes: \n\nA sin tax, by nature, is how we stoop to our lowest ethical levels by making a minority pay for something enjoyed mostly by the majority…By what rights do we condemn smokers and drinkers to fund our arts and culture, or our professional sports teams? The only justification is that they can’t do anything about it. —Alan Glazen, Special to The Plain Dealer, Cleveland business owner.\n\nI have the answer to the problem of financing our sports teams. It’s very simple. The City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County should do one thing: Sell each of the sport facilities to the respective team owners for $1 each. A great bargain. The facilities cost hundreds of millions to build. So, give ‘em away. Then, as every other business, they pay their bills and get off welfare. Cleveland journalist Roldo Bartimole\n\nGreat Moments in Cynicism:\n\nIn 2010, Gilbert and Cavs management removed the drinking fountains from Quicken Loans Arena, which forced Cavs fans in attendance to wait in concession lines for small courtesy cups of water or to buy bottled water for $4.\n\nManagement’s stated reasoning?  During the H1N1 flu scare, they wanted to prevent the spread of illness.  However, no one from the NBA or any health department office recommended the fountains be removed, nor had health officials been informed of the measure by the Cavs.\n\nSoon after, Cleveland’s Building and Housing Department informed the team that removing the fountains was against building code, and the team was forced to reinstall them.\n\nCity councilman Tony Brancatelli didn’t buy that the Cavs were motivated by a concern for public health.  \”It’s clearly an opportunity to sell more drinks,\” he said.  \”If there were health reasons, we’d be taking fountains out of every school and institution.\”\n\nIn fact, the incentive seemed pretty blatant to everyone.  \”The reason is so you have to buy a $4 water,\” a 17-year-old kid attending a Cavs game said about the drinking fountain removal.\n\n\”That’s simply absurd,\” team spokesman Ted Carper said later in a statement.  \”That never crossed our minds.\”\n\nOf course not.\n\nOwner Depravity Equivalency Rating:\n\nWith a net worth more than three times Cleveland’s annual school budget, Dan Gilbert leverages his power to hoard resources for personal gain from the city’s schools.  He profits from citizens’ appetites for booze and cigarettes and apparently then tries to sell them bottled water to protect their health.  I guess Gilbert will peddle anything to anyone if there’s a buck in it.\n\nRating: Shameless Huckster\n\n

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