The Sports Lobbyist

December 23, 2010 1:47 PM

Just in time for the Holidays-NASCAR makes out like bandits but do their fans?

512px-NASCAR_practice.jpgThe Kentucky Speedway is hosting a NASCAR Sprint Cup race this coming July. In order to expand seating for the event the Speedway applied for state tax rebates and received them. This is the second time in the last few weeks that NASCAR owners have made out like bandits by receiving government funding for the sport, something which should have fans wondering how that funding trickles down.

The Kentucky Speedway received from the State of Kentucky rebates worth over $20 million over the next ten years. That funding was approved with the Governor's blessing, a coup for NASCAR and racing on its own - but that's not all they've won of late. The President's tax package, recently signed into law, included a tax provision which would benefit owners of NASCAR tracks with capital projects to the tune of $40 million. The Federal incentive isn't a new thing; it's actually been occurring since 2004 and adjusts the depreciation schedule for tracks to avoid taxation.

NASCAR was obviously pleased with the federal tax incentive - "being able to provide the track owners the opportunity to invest more in their tracks and make them better and safer is important for us and our fans" said a spokesman.

NASCAR owners are smart to lobby on both issues but I have a hard time believing the fans' chief concern when they see their tax dollars being dispersed is safety. I would venture to say that the price of a ticket is the number 1 priority, an issue which doesn't appear to be a string attached to federal funding.

NASCAR owners deserve great applause for their fantastic state and federal lobbying on behalf of the sport, but fans have a right to ask how this funding on the local and federal side translates to their pocketbook.  NASCAR would likely respond that incentives help them create jobs which should be enough for taxpayers, but I think that fans have the right to ask for more. The fans also support local jobs by paying for merchandise, tickets, etc and could make themselves part of the conversation if they chose.

And they will have the chance in the near future.

The Gateway International Raceway in Madison, IL is now looking for a local tax break to help them sell their facilities while the federal tax break that the President just signed is due to expire in 2 years.

Fans should consider gearing up on this issue before the next legislative silly season to determine if it's worth a push for lower tickets or other fan needs, or if its better to remain in neutral on this ongoing issue.

(image - wikicommons)


Maury Litwack is a recognized lobbying expert and founder of the
advocacy training and education firm - Capitol Plan. Maury served on the
staff of two Congressmen where he provided legislative expertise and
political strategy. Maury left the Hill to expand the Washington office
of Miami-Dade County, the 6th largest county in the country. His
analysis of lobbyists, lobbying, celebrity advocacy, and earmarks have
appeared in political publications such as The Hill, Daily Caller and and on the radio in programs such as AOL's Politics Daily
and XM/SIRIUS POTUS. His take on ongoing tech advocacy issues have
appeared in top technology publications Business Insider -SAI,
TechCrunch, and Mashable

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