PENNSYLVANIA (WHTM) — Two state lawmakers are calling for an audit of payments to the state from Pennsylvania’s two Major League Baseball teams. The payments fall under an agreement made in 1999 when the state invested taxpayer money in building stadiums for the Phillies and the Pirates.
“The taxpayers of Pennsylvania deserve a chance to be at the table,” Rep. Jim Gregory (R-Blair) said.
Representatives Gregory and Tim Bonner (R-Mercer, Butler) explained in the early 2000sn the state contributed $320 million for four stadiums in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, including PNC Park and Citizens Bank Park.
“The Pirates and the Phillies are cherished and historic assets in their communities,” Bonner said.
Under a 1999 deal, the teams are required to make rental payments of $25 million every 10 years. Teams can get tax deductions that reduce that payment. The deductions are based on how much tax revenue the stadiums rake in.
“This proposed legislation will require an audit of the tax credits claimed by the Pirates and the Phillies for the second 10-year period,” Bonner said.
Over the first 10-year period, from 2002 to 2012, both the Phillies and Pirates generated more than $25 million in tax revenue and owed no rental payment as a result.
“We are particularly interested in the Pirates’ claim for tax credits during this past 10-year period because we are seeing a decline in attendance,” Bonner said.
Lawmakers said this is not about punishment, but they said they want to restore people’s excitement about their favorite teams.
“From excitement comes that hope that you’re relevant again in the conversations nationally when it comes to baseball and right now that is lacking,” Gregory said.
The two lawmakers plan to spend the next few months gathering support and then re-introduce the bill at the beginning of the next legislative session in January.