Ohio pro sports franchises just scored two new laws that could invest millions of state dollars into a soccer stadium and big events like the NFL draft.

Gov. John Kasich signed a stadium support bill (S.B. 51) and an event-grant bill (H.B. 531) Dec. 19 as part of a whirlwind Lame Duck session tinged with the drama of a potential team move.

Money Ball

S.B. 51 provides $15 million in state support for a $645 million mixed-use pro soccer stadium complex in Columbus. The project is part of local investors’ bid to Major League Soccer to keep the Columbus Crew from moving to Austin, Texas.

The investors, lead by the owners of the Cleveland Browns and a Columbus real estate mogul, have until Dec. 31 to convince MLS to keep the team in Columbus. The potential sale was made possible by landmark litigation brought by the state under its unique “taxpayer assistance” law that requires teams to consider local offers before transferring out of state.

Earlier this year the state separately invested $4 million into the stadium for FC Cincinnati, which was recently named an MLS expansion team.

Incentives on Draft

In an effort to land more pro sports draft events and all-star games, H.B. 531 expands the Ohio Development Services Agency’s authority to issue grants to sports event organizers.

The law expands the state’s grant program to include baseball events and drafts. The law also eliminates the $1 million annual cap on all grants and the $500,000 cap on grants per event.

The grants work by allowing an organizer to receive up to 50 percent of the projected increase in state sales tax from an event. The Cleveland Browns, hoping to land an NFL draft in the near future, pushed for this law along with a Who’s Who of state pro sports teams, including Major League Baseball’s Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians and the National Hockey League’s Columbus Blue Jackets.