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2008 Year-end Money Moves: Details

Chiefs stumble on field, but score big Missouri tax breaks

The Kansas City Chiefs sure had a tough time on the football field this season, but at least they've scored some big tax points.

The Chiefs lost their final 2008 NFL regular season game today to Cincinnati and managed only two wins this year. Such a dismal record usually portends a lot of changes in the off season.

But the team is happy about one change. The Chiefs are moving their training camp from Wisconsin to Missouri, thanks in large part to state tax breaks.

Earlier this month, the Missouri Development Finance Board unanimously approved $25 million in tax credits to subsidize the NFL team's move of their training camp to St. Joseph, Mo., and to pay for more renovations to Arrowhead Stadium.

As that spelling impaired end zone painter said in the Snickers' TV commercial, Great Googly Moogly!

It is worth the money? Really, how much can such a change help a team that only posted two wins and that has already announced the resignation of its longtime president, chief executive officer and general manager?

"That's difficult to say," Bill Newman, the Chiefs' senior vice president of administration, told the press. "These are physical improvements, and everything helps contribute to our overall goal, which is to win games, to be competitive and to add to the economy of the state, the county and the city."

Tough times for the state as well as the team: While the Chiefs have had a tough year, the state of Missouri also has its own problems.

Missouri is facing a projected $342 million budget shortfall this fiscal year and financial pressures are expected to be even greater in the 2010 fiscal year, the first in a two-year payout of the tax credits.

The total cost of renovating both the practice and playing stadiums is estimated to exceed $700 million, according to information submitted by the authority to the state board. Most of that is coming from a local bond issue backed by a voter-approved three-eighths cent sales tax.

As for the recently approved tax credits, technically they won't be going to the Chiefs. Rather, they are payable to the Jackson County Sports Complex Authority, a public entity that owns the stadiums where the Chiefs and Royals play.

And the deal isn't quite done. The value of the tax credits exceeds Missouri's annual cap, so that means the directors of state's Office of Administration, Department of Revenue and Department of Economic Development still must sign off on the deal. That's not likely to happen until January when the new governor takes over.

The football fan part of me understands wanting to help your team any way you can. When we lived in Maryland, I voted for the bond issue to build the stadium that helped Baltimore get the Ravens to replace the stolen-away Colts.

So my sincere "Good Luck" wishes next season to the Chiefs and their taxpaying fans, who now have more than just a rooting interest in the team.


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