[Editor's note: This story originally was published by Real Clear Wire.]
By Adam Andrzejewski
Real Clear Wire
The $1.5 billion that Michigan is getting for high-speed internet service is meant for places like libraries and community centers, but private companies including a trampoline park, a monster-truck rally center, a hell-themed paintball facility and 13 NASCAR or drag-racing speedways could be getting funds as well.
The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration is allocating the $42.5 billion for the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program to the states.
In its guidance, NTIA states that the funding should go to “gigabit connections to community anchor institutions such as libraries and community centers that lack such connectivity,” Citizens Against Government Waste reported.
It allows each state’s funding proposal to include its own definition of “community anchor institutions,” which are supposed to connect unserved and underserved communities.
In the Michigan High Speed Internet office proposal for how it will spend the money, it includes in its definition of community anchor institutions, 10 private zoos, five of which don’t meet the “standards for animal welfare, care, and management” required for accreditation. It also includes 75 stadiums and sports centers — including more than 40 that are privately owned, like major league venues including Ford Field, Comerica Park, and Little Caesars Arena, which offer free Wi-Fi at their own expense.
“The misuse of public funds to subsidize private recreational facilities, private zoos, and stadiums amounts to little more than corporate welfare,” CAGW said. “These businesses have funded and can fund their own broadband buildouts and expansions without taxpayer support. Taxpayers should not be asked to subsidize these private, for-profit businesses and divert BEAD funds away from bringing broadband to unserved Michiganders.”
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