May 5, 2014
By Rick Horrow and Karla Swatek
MLB has been excluded from a new Florida bill providing tax breaks for sports teams unless the league alters its policy on Cuban players. Under MLB rules, Cuban players must live in another country before they can become free agents. The rule gained notoriety last month over reports that human traffickers held Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig hostage while he tried escaping from Cuba. Florida has a significant Cuban population, so it shouldn’t come as too surprising to see the state legislature make this mini-protest against MLB.
The actual bill would make $12 million in annual subsidies available for stadium and arena projects. Organizations, including teams and NASCAR, would apply for up to $2 million in annual tax breaks, with the payments lasting up to 30 years. MLB has vested interest in the state beyond just the Miami Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays. In recent years, the state has seen Spring Training teams flock to Arizona thanks to taxpayer subsidies and newer stadiums.