Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Kyle Allen of the Carolina Panthers throws an interception at Bank of America Stadium on December 1, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

'Astonishing' Trump Rule Could Let Banks Classify NFL Stadium Investments as Aid to Poor Communities

The financial institutions would get significant tax breaks for their investments, thanks to the 2017 Republican tax law.

Jake Johnson

Rule changes proposed by the Trump administration last week could let banks classify investments in professional sports stadiums as aid to the poor, and then give the financial institutions a significant tax break for their efforts.

The changes are part of an Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) plan to overhaul the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, which requires banks to invest in low-income communities.

Both bank regulators are run by appointees of President Donald Trump.

As Bloomberg reported Monday, "the agencies drafted a long list hypothetical ways banks could seek to meet their obligations [under the Community Reinvestment Act], including this sentence on page 100 of their proposal: 'Investment in a qualified opportunity fund, established to finance improvements to an athletic stadium in an opportunity zone that is also [a low- or moderate-income] census tract.'"

"There are well over a dozen NFL venues nestled in so-called opportunity zones," Bloomberg noted. "They include M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, home of the National Football League's Ravens, which this year completed $120 million in upgrades such as a new sound system... There also are facilities for professional baseball, basketball, soccer, and hockey teams in the zones."

Under the 2017 tax law signed by President Donald Trump, real estate developers and financial institutions that invest in "opportunity zones" receive a capital gains tax cut.

The tax incentive sparked criticism from lawmakers including Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who warned in a statement last month that "there are no safeguards to ensure taxpayers are not simply subsidizing handouts for billionaires with no benefit to the low-income communities this program was supposed to help."

"Republicans who support the program should work with Democrats to ensure it does not become a boondoggle," Wyden said.

Critics reacted with incredulity to the Trump administration's proposed rule changes.

"The proposed credit for financing 'improvements' to stadiums soon raised eyebrows among policy wonks," Bloomberg reported. "That may put pressure on regulators to clarify whether banks really can satisfy CRA obligations by, say, funding a 200-foot video screen."

Daily Beast reporter Lachlan Markey said the proposal is "simply astonishing."

Pat Garofalo, managing editor of Talk Poverty and author of the "Boondoggle" newsletter, tweeted that the proposed rule changes are "truly wild."

"A potential change to the Community Reinvestment Act—the federal anti-redlining law—would allow banks to meet their obligations by investing in sports stadiums in Opportunity Zones," said Garofalo. "Opportunity Zones are a bad giveaway to investors gentrifying neighborhoods. Stadium subsidies are a huge waste of money."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

As Progressives Call for End to Blockade, Biden Announces More Sanctions Against Cuba

The move comes after Democratic leadership in the House blocked an amendment to roll back limits on how much money people in the United States can send to family on the island nation.

Jessica Corbett ·


Progressives Issue Dire Warning as House Bill to Extend Eviction Moratorium Dies

"If Congress does not act now, the fallout of the eviction crisis will undoubtedly set us backwards as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to ravish our communities, needlessly contributing to more death and destruction."

Brett Wilkins ·


Citing Donziger Case, Dems Raise Alarm About Use of Private Prosecutors in Federal Court

Private prosecutions of criminal contempt charges, said a pair of senators, "are highly unusual and can raise concerning questions of fundamental fairness in our criminal justice system."

Jessica Corbett ·


'About Damn Time': DOJ Says Treasury Department Must Give Trump's Tax Returns to Congress

"This case is now bigger even than Donald Trump's crimes. Neither the courts, nor the machinery of our government, exist to bodyguard a corrupt private citizen from transparency."

Jake Johnson ·


'Just Say That the Election Was Corrupt,' Trump Told DOJ in December

"It was a failed coup. Call it what it was. It didn't work! But they sure as hell tried."

Kenny Stancil ·