for Zero ($0) Dollars?
Now that the ballyhoo over the recently announced alliance between Duck Commander and the Independence Bowl (which is now the “Duck Commander Independence Bowl”) has subsided, many citizens are questioning the finances of this new sponsorship agreement.
A seemingly innocent public records request to the I Bowl people inquiring as to “the actual dollar amount Duck Commander will contribute to the (Independence) Bowl each year of the sponsorship” and requesting a “copy of the sponsorship contract with Duck Commander” was met with a stinging rebuke. Missy Setters, the Bowl’s Executive Director, tersely advised that the sponsorship agreement and any information concerning it is “not subject to the Louisiana Public Records Act and therefore is not being produced.”
In contrast, local government entities promptly replied to public records requests concerning funding, – direct or indirect– to the Bowl. The east side of the river stays home, so to speak, – neither Bossier City nor Bossier Parish have funded any public dollars to the Bowl since January 2010. The City of Shreveport has contributed $480,000.00 to the Bowl since January 2010, with an additional $140,000.00 budgeted for this year. The Caddo Commissioner has contributed $248,000.00 in the past four years with $65,000.00 budgeted for 2014.
Shreveport has also supported the Bowl with in-kind services, – Shreveport Parks and Recreation, fire, police, and traffic engineering. These expenses for the four year period totaled $355,112.00.; it is anticipated that the 2014 in-kind services will be approximately $50,000.00. Additionally, the City of Shreveport is on the hook to pay for one-half of the cost of a new $1,000,000.00 scoreboard, at the rate of $100,000.00 per year.
Leaving out the scoreboard, the City of Shreveport’s support for the Independence Bowl since January 2010 will exceed $1 million dollars at the end of this year. The Caddo Commissioner will have shelled out $303,000 in that interval. Thus $1.3 million plus will have been paid by Caddo taxpayers in five years to help underwrite the I Bowl. Many of these same taxpayers have paid additional ad valorem taxes in the form of a bond issue to upgrade Independence Stadium.
Word on the street is that the Duck Dynasty family and their Duck Commander Company will pay zero dollars (as in zilch, nada, nothing) to the I Bowl for its sponsorship. And to add insult to injury, reportedly the Duck Bunch will be paid (yes, paid) for their sponsorship in the form of royalties on Bowl related Duck Commander sales at Wal-Mart, Academy, and other retail outlets. Not a bad deal for a family whose combined net worth is reported in excess of $78 million dollars, and a company with a value of $400 million dollars.
Taxpayers throughout Louisiana have also funded the Independence Bowl. The Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation, and Tourism has funded over $1.25 million dollars to the Bowl since January 2010. The legislature is in session now, and presumably the Bowl will receive another $300,000 – give or take – from state taxpayers this year. Assuming this to be the case, total taxpayer funding of the Independence Bowl for five years (including this year) will exceed $2.85 million dollars.
The new ploy to replicate the generous sponsorship dollars previously provided by Advocare is to try again to add as additional hotel/motel tax to provide funds for the Bowl. The thinking here is to make the out of town visitors to Shreveport-Bossier pick up the tab – a left handed “welcome” if you will for those sought after tourist dollars. If its any solace maybe the Duck Bunch will stay some overnights in a local hotel/motel while they bask in their “bowl glory”, thereby paying a tiny portion of the I-Bowl tab if the tax passes.
One can take some solace in the fact that presumably the Duck Bunch do pay some Louisiana state taxes. Thus, one could say these millionaires are doing their part (?) in paying for a Bowl game featuring their company name. If this makes sense, maybe some swamp property also sounds like a good deal. Quack, quack, quack.