Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Folly of Government-Financed Sports Stadiums

An interesting article cites research by Andrew Zimbalist

For one thing, Zimbalist says, the money that will be spent on the events held at the new sports arena or stadium is money spent by local residents. This is not new money but money that would simply have been spent on other entertainment in the metropolitan area if the stadium didn’t exist. Secondly, the big money that goes to players, owners and investors does not stay in the area but is invested elsewhere. Third, the city or state is often chipping in up to a third of the continuing costs and this is tax money wasted, not revenue made

The third point is most important to dwell upon in this time of one of the worst economies in 70 years. “’… in the typical case,’ Zimbalist says, ‘the city and/or state contributes roughly two-thirds of the financing for the facility’s construction and takes on obligations for additional expenditures over time.’”
There are other problems with these projects, as well. For one thing, the jobs created are for the most part low paid, part time and offer no benefits. Because of this “jobs” are not really created by a sports complex. Also, very few ballparks have been much of a boon to surrounding businesses. Few people that attend sports events stay around the area in which the stadium sits to shop, eat, or look for other entertainment. They go to the park and then they leave. About the only thing locals get are traffic nightmares and litter.

As much as I like sports, I agree that government-financed stadiums are a horrible idea. Aside from the lack of economic benefits, it simply is not fair. Many people could care less about sports. Those of us who do like sports should not force others to pay for our entertainment. Should the government also finance somebody's stamp collection or scuba diving?

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