Introduced in December 2017 as part of President Trump’s Tax Cuts & Jobs Act, the Opportunity Zones program incentivizes real estate and business investments in certain low-income communities throughout the country by providing investors with major tax breaks, so long as certain requirements are met.
There are 15 NFL stadiums (out of 30 total) that are located in such Opportunity Zone communities, plus an additional 3 stadiums that are located adjacent to opportunity zones. NFL teams and stadium owners who invest in these communities could be eligible for tax breaks.
The map below shows all 30 NFL stadiums. The 15 green markers indicate the stadiums located in opportunity zones; the 3 orange markers indicate stadiums adjacent to opportunity zones; and the remaining 12 red markers indicate stadiums neither located in nor adjacent to opportunity zones.
Map created by OpportunityDb.com
Note: this article (and accompanying map) considers two future stadiums under construction in favor of three current stadiums that the NFL will cease using in 2020 — the new Las Vegas Stadium (for the Raiders) instead of Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum; and the new Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park (for the Rams and Chargers) instead of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and StubHub Center.
Stadiums located in opportunity zones
The stadiums that are located in opportunity zones provide their owners with a few options for tax-incentivized redevelopment.
One, the NFL teams and stadium owners could invest in new construction or redevelopment around the stadium. Think hotels, retail, or mixed-use projects. Certain investments could be eligible for tax breaks under the Opportunity Zone program.
Two, they could potentially receive tax breaks on stadium renovations if the deals are structured properly. Note: the IRS has yet to issue final regulations on Opportunity Zones. How exactly OZ-eligible investments in stadium renovation projects would be structured is still unclear at this time.
Atlanta Falcons (Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA)
Home of Super Bowl LIII, Mercedes-Benz Stadium only opened in 2017. It is unlikely that the stadium will be considered for capital improvements anytime soon. A major addition next to the stadium, the Home Depot Backyard, has also opened just last year. But commercial areas to the north and residential areas to the west of the stadium may be potential landing spots for some Opportunity Zones investment.
Baltimore Ravens (M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, MD)
First opened in 1998, M&T Bank Stadium is an eligible candidate for improvements. In fact, some improvements are already underway. The construction of a new escalator and elevator system are part of a $120 million renovation that may be completed by the start of the 2019 season. Renovations to club level concessions and an upgrade of the stadium’s sound system are already underway as well.
Cincinnati Bengals (Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, OH)
The Cincinnati Bengals spent $20 million on stadium improvements in 2015. Could more improvements soon be on the way for Paul Brown Stadium, first opened in 2000?
Cleveland Browns (FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, OH)
FirstEnergy Stadium opened in 1999 when the Browns returned to the NFL. The Browns have begun discussions regarding a broader development initiative that could involve either a major stadium modernization project or construction of a new stadium.
Denver Broncos (Broncos Stadium at Mile High in Denver, CO)
Broncos Stadium opened in 2001. There are plans to tear up the parking lots to the south of the stadium to make way for a new entertainment district. So while there are no announced plans to improve the stadium itself, the adjacent district development may very well benefit from the new Opportunity Zones program.
Detroit Lions (Ford Field in Detroit, MI)
Opened in 2002, Ford Field completed a $100 million renovation project just a year ago. It seems unlikely that any additional improvements to the stadium itself are forthcoming. But the areas around the stadium are designated opportunity zones, and would be eligible for the tax breaks.
Houston Texans (NRG Stadium in Houston, TX)
Despite not receiving any major improvements since first opening in 2002, NRG Stadium currently is not the subject of any renovation plans. But the Astrodome, also located in NRG Park next door to NRG Stadium, has been tagged by county commissioners to receive $105 million in upgrades that are expected to begin later this year. Once the renovations are complete, the Astrodome will once again be a revenue-generating facility, with new revenue set to go toward additional upgrades and maintenance of NRG Park.
Indianapolis Colts (Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN)
Lucas Oil Stadium has not received any major upgrades since first opening in 2008. The Indianapolis Capital Improvement Board recently approved an $8.5 million upgrade to the stadium’s AV equipment. But beyond that, there are no improvement plans in the works at this time.
Jacksonville Jaguars (TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, FL)
TIAA Bank Field opened in 1995 for the Jacksonville Jaguars’ first season as an NFL expansion franchise; although, some features of the stadium date back to the old Gator Bowl Stadium’s additions from 1982. In 2013, a $63 million project added a 42,000 square foot fan zone complete with swimming pools and two jumbo video boards. An additional $90 million in improvements approved in 2015 created an indoor practice facility and 5,000-seat amphitheater, and renovated the stadium’s club level seating.
Las Vegas Raiders (Las Vegas Stadium in Paradise, NV — opening 2020)
The new Las Vegas Stadium is a $1.8 billion project that is expected to open in time for the 2020 NFL season. The new construction sits in an opportunity zone tract, potentially making certain investments in the project eligible for Opportunity Zones tax breaks if the developers decide to structure funding under a Qualified Opportunity Zone fund.
New Orleans Saints (Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA)
The Mercedes-Benz Superdome opened in 1975, making it one of the oldest stadiums in the NFL. Hurricane Katrina damaged the stadium and forced its closure for the entire 2005 NFL season. A $185 million refurbishment project was completed in time for the opening of the 2006 NFL season. Shortly thereafter, a $320 million renovation project got underway, finishing in 2011. The Superdome will host Super Bowl LVIII on February 4, 2024.
Seattle Seahawks (CenturyLink Field in Seattle, WA)
The adjacent Safeco Field (home of MLB’s Seattle Mariners) was recently approved to receive $135 million in improvements over the next 25 years. But CenturyLink Field has not yet received any major upgrades since opening in 2002.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL)
First opened in 1998, Raymond James Stadium has recently received nearly $160 million in upgrades. Raymond James Stadium will host Super Bowl LV on February 7, 2021.
Tennessee Titans (Nissan Stadium in Nashville, TN)
A report published in 2017 found that Nissan Stadium (opened in 1999) needs $293.2 million in capital improvements over the next 20 years to remain viable. As of yet, no renovation plans have been announced.
Washington Redskins (FedExField in Landover, MD)
FedExField has received numerous small upgrades over the last decade, the most recent of which was $27 million in upgrades to its WiFi system, video boards, and seating back in 2013. With the Redskins’ lease at the stadium set to expire in 2027, the team may is considering construction of a new stadium.
Stadiums located adjacent to opportunity zones
While these stadiums do not lie in the footprint of an opportunity zone, their surrounding neighborhoods do. These NFL teams could decide to participate in community revitalization in neighborhoods adjacent to their stadiums that would be eligible for the Opportunity Zone tax break.
Green Bay Packers (Lambeau Field in Green Bay, WI)
Lambeau Field was constructed in 1957, making it the second-oldest stadium in the NFL (Soldier Field, 1924) once the Rams move out of the Los Angeles Coliseum (1923). The Packers modernized Lambeau Field earlier this decade and also developed a new $130 million Titletown district to the west of the stadium just a few years ago. Neither Titletown nor the stadium lie in an opportunity zone. But the land immediately to the east of the stadium is an opportunity zone and could be the next are to receive some redevelopment.
Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers (Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park in Inglewood, CA — opening 2020)
Construction is currently underway at the new Los Angeles Stadium and Entertainment District at Hollywood Park, with the NFL stadium set to open in time for the start of the 2020 season. The $5 billion construction project amounts to much more than just the stadium; 800,000 square feet of office space and 2,500 new residential units are also included in the cost. The project does not sit in an opportunity zone. But the tract immediately to the southwest of the development does, and could reap some spillover benefit as a result. Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park will host Super Bowl LVI on February 6, 2022.
Miami Dolphins (Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL)
A $350 million renovation project for Hard Rock Stadium was just completed in 2016. The stadium itself is not an opportunity zone. And it is surrounded by expansive parking lots on all sides. But to the north and to the west of these parking lots are residential neighborhoods that have been certified as opportunity zones. Hard Rock Stadium will host Super Bowl LIV on February 2, 2020.
Stadiums located neither in nor adjacent to opportunity zones
These NFL stadiums got the short end of the stick, and are not located in or near opportunity zones.
- Arizona Cardinals (State Farm Field in Glendale, AZ), host of Super Bowl LVII on February 5, 2023.
- Buffalo Bills (New Era Field in Orchard Park, NY)
- Carolina Panthers (Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC)
- Chicago Bears (Soldier Field in Chicago, IL)
- Dallas Cowboys (AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX)
- Kansas City Chiefs (Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO)
- Minnesota Vikings (U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN)
- New England Patriots (Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA)
- New York Jets and New York Giants (MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ)
- Philadelphia Eagles (Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA)
- Pittsburgh Steelers (Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA)
- San Francisco 49ers (Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA)
What about Buffalo?
New Era Field in Orchard Park, NY is neither in nor adjacent to an opportunity zone. But numerous proposals have been submitted for the construction of a new Bills stadium located in Buffalo, NY. Could a new stadium project take advantage of an opportunity zone? Only time will tell.