State Representative Robert F. Hagan announced today that he has introduced a bill to ban professional sports organizations from ‘blacking out’ televised broadcasts. Teams that play in stadiums partially or fully funded with public dollars would be prohibited from engaging in the practice.
Ohio taxpayers have spent over $600 million on building two stadiums for the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals alone. Both cities and their respective counties continue to struggle to meet the obligations of their original lease agreements and other contracts related to these structures.
“Ohio’s taxpayers have helped finance many of the pro-sports stadiums and arenas in Ohio and should be able to enjoy the entertainment for which they paid, whether in the stadium itself or from the comfort of their own home,” Rep. Hagan said.
The legislation, House Bill 599, will prohibit any pro-sports team that regularly plays in a stadium built with taxpayers’ dollars from approving a contract that allows televised “black outs.” Any team’s management that violates this law would be legally compelled to pay back the state, county, or other political subdivision an amount equal to what was originally financed by the public for the arena or stadium.
“Unfortunately, federal regulations seem to condone the ‘black out’ policies currently in place,” Rep. Hagan said. “Though a state law prohibiting the practice could draw legal challenges, I would welcome such a debate on an issue that Ohio’s taxpayers – and sports fans – find important.”
Professional sports organizations often “black out,” or restrict televised access for, sporting events due to a minimum ticket sales threshold not being met.