Kucinich Plays Financial Hardball With MLB Owners

Posted July 16, 2003 at 12:46pm

Presidential candidate Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), perhaps hoping to lock in the sports fan vote, introduced a bill to require team owners to offer more baseball games on free television.

Coinciding with Tuesday night’s All-Star game, the Baseball Fan Protection Act would amend an existing tax break given to franchise owners so that it is available only to those who offer baseball on broadcast TV.

“Baseball is America’s game,” Kucinich said while unveiling his legislation before the American League defeated the National League, 7-6. “Teams are vital to their communities. This legislation ensures that owners keep their commitment and give back to the loyal fans who have given so much to baseball, including time, team spirit and tax dollars,” he said.

Currently, owners can write off half the cost of the purchase price of the team by capitalizing and depreciating players’ contracts. Kucinich’s bill would only give the tax break to team owners who offer television broadcasters the option of bidding on the rights to air games. If the bid is unreasonable by market standards or if no broadcaster makes a bid, then the owner may accept bids from cable operators at any price, he said.

The bill would be retroactive to teams purchased after Dec. 31, 1999, and would affect the Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox, Florida Marlins and Montreal Expos.

The existing tax credit has been available since 1967.