Should cities shell out for stadiums?
There's been a rapid rise in the use of taxpayer money to help finance new and renovated sports venues. But do these projects make good financial sense for the communities involved?
Just how important is it for a major U.S. city to have a state-of-the-art sports stadium?
It's a question many municipalities across the country are facing as they come under pressure from sports leagues and team owners looking for help in footing the bill for renovated or new facilities.
A case in point: The owner of the NFL's Atlanta Falcons, billionaire and Home Depot (HD) co-founder Arthur Blank, has been dropping hints that the team might move to Los Angeles. And those rumors have been sparking pandemonium in the local media and among city and state officials.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal says it's “incumbent on us” to keep the Falcons in Atlanta. But as the Atlanta Business Chronicle notes, "Deal stopped short of saying whether the Los Angeles factor could improve the current negotiations between the state and the Falcons on the financial deal to build a new $1 billion stadium."
The past several decades have seen a rapid rise in public-private partnerships for stadium renovations or new construction.
"Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones now controls a $1.15 billion stadium that Arlington, Texas, voters helped finance with increases in sales and hotel taxes,” notes a recent Associated Press report. “In Indianapolis, the state owns 4-year-old Lucas Oil Stadium, for which the state, city and surrounding counties covered most of the $720 million construction cost.”
But some groups are balking at these tactics. The advocacy group Common Cause Georgia says it now opposes any public funding used in the construction of a new Atlanta stadium and plans to introduce a bill to stop the state's hotel-motel tax from financing the sports facility.
In a blog post on the organization's website entitled "Please don't bluff, Mr. Blank," Common Cause Georgia's executive director calls on Blank to show that he is negotiating in good faith.
And this issue hasn't gone unnoticed by some skilled journalists.
Joanna Cagan and Neil deMause, co-authors of "Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit," track on a companion website for their book what they describe as the "roughly $2 billion a year in public subsidies that go toward building new pro sports facilities."
In an interview with Baseball Daily Digest, deMause said while there is usually a several-year-long "honeymoon period" for teams playing in a new stadium, attendance usually drops back to previous levels once the new venue becomes old hat.
The bottom line, he says, is that “taken as a whole, stadiums and arenas almost never pay their own way. It’s why teams pretty much never give in and build stadiums with their own money -- the payoff isn’t so much in the stadium (which is a money-loser) as in the subsidy.”
More on moneyNOW
NO!! The teams and the owners have the money. The average taxpayer can barely put a roof over his head and feed the family. Many work multiple jobs and will never make what these overgrown toddlers make. Let them pay their own way. Keep the government out of my life.
georgia should drop the hint back to the falcon's owner that the georgia dome was build with public funding and it in the interest of georgia that the falcon's stay in atlanta. since the marriage has been made georgia would have no choice except to envoke the laws of eminate domain to protect the georgia taxpayer.
I think it is great that Stadiums are paid for with public funds and if the game is not sold out the people who paid for the stadium can not see it on tv. What's with that? The NFL and the team owners have a good gig going on here.
No. If it were such a good deal, the stadiums would have been funded by investor groups years ago and groups would be standing in line for the next one.
Similar to a general partnership. At the offering the general partner has the experience and the investors have the money. After a few years the investors have the experience and the general partner has all the money.
The NFL (or any American Pro sport league) has never made a dollar for any American city. Draw a circle 25 miles around every NFL city. Virtfually every single dollar that that team takes in every year comes from inside that circle (yeah, there are pennies [comparitively] taken on tv rights, from other places, that the league brings in, as well, but it's pennies.)! Jacksonville is my example. The Jags have been here over 15 years. I have yet to hear of a single employer bringing a factory, or HQ to town (with its payroll, etc) that came here because of the Jags. It's a nice bonus, for some, but they come for the "special deal" they get from the city, or the state, or the low taxes, or the sunshine, or the great schools (sarcasm), but locating somewhere besause of a pro-football team? Give me a break.
And, any time they start talking about special events (Super Bowl, World Series, Olympics, etc) grab your wallet tightly (with both hands!). You are about to be treated to "creative bookkeeping" by masters at the game, ( A place to start, most Hotel-Motels operate at 75-85% full levels-- so a SUPER_SUPER event can't increase you room rentals more than about 25-30% [while they usually get credit for 100%!] ) The people who get rich from a free factory (er, stadium) are first, the owners, second, the players, last, the public!
Absolutely not. It is not a government function to finance sports venues or stadiums. PERIOD!
No matter how much publicity the owner do, and how many lobbyist they hire, or however much the politicians tell you it is good for the future, the truth is it is not. It is good for the pockets of a few politicians, contractors and team owners.
Cities have better uses for the money: How about education, how about hospitals.
This is my humble opinion.
AND HOW MANY GOVERNMENTAL MARINE FISHERIES JOBS CAN WE NOW EXPECT TO BE ELIMINATED FROM THIS QUOTA CUT ACTION? DAM SURE DON'T NEED THESE SALARIED POSITIONS ANY LONGER...
THIS ACTION IS JUST THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG OF ELIMINATING ALL HUNTING AND FISHING WITHIN THE U.S. THEY TAKE AND TAKE AND TAKE...TIL THERE'S NO MORE TO TAKE....AND TRUST ME, IT'S COMING...
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