A Decade of Research on Sports Stadiums

Published February 1, 2005

“Caught Stealing: Debunking the Economic Case for D.C. Baseball”
Dennis Coates and Brad R. Humphreys
October 27, 2004
Cato Institute

This study’s conclusion, and that of nearly all academic economists studying this issue, is that professional sports generally have little, if any, positive effect on a city’s economy. The net economic impact of professional sports in Washington, DC and the 36 other cities that hosted professional sports teams over nearly 30 years, was a reduction in real per capita income over the entire metropolitan area.

“Experts Agree: Public Support for Stadiums Is Madness”
Charles L. Klotzer
March 1, 2002
St. Louis Journalism Review

Although research proves sports stadiums drain public resources, are of minimal or no economic benefit, and enrich primarily the owners of sport teams, St. Louis and Missouri might succumb and dole out many millions for decades to come.

“Home Run for Corporate Welfare: Taxpayer Subsidies for Sports Stadiums”
Policy Forum
April 2, 2001
Cato Institute

During the twentieth century, more than $14 billion in government subsidies went to the four major professional sports–Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, and the National Hockey League. While cities build fields of dreams for teams, hoping they will come, it isn’t clear there are economic gains. Three experts on the economics of tax-funded stadiums examined the need for subsidies of sports teams and the economic impact of sports on local economies.

“Sports Stadiums: No Pot of Gold for Cities”
Sam Staley and David Swindell
The Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions

Sports stadiums may have psychological and even political benefits, but they are falsely sold as an economic development tool. Cities and boosters ought to rely on private capital for funding these structures.

“Sports Stadium Madness: Why It Started, How to Stop It”
Joseph L. Bast
February 1, 1998
The Heartland Institute

Taxpayer subsidies to professional sports teams amount to some $500 million a year. The decision to subsidize a team is driven by competition among cities for a limited number of teams, league policies that reward relocation, and lobbying by special interest groups. The solution is for fans and taxpayers to campaign for nonprofit ownership of teams, a model pioneered by the NFL Green Bay Packers in 1923.

“Tax-Exempt Bonds and the Economics of Professional Sports Stadiums”
Dennis Zimmerman
May 1, 1996
Congressional Research Service
http://www.heartland.org/Article.cfm?artId=3909 (part 1)
http://www.heartland.org/Article.cfm?artId=3910 (part 2)

An economist for the Congressional Research Service concludes that federal, state, and local taxpayers don’t benefit economically from subsidizing professional sports stadiums.

“Public Financing of Sports Stadiums: How Cincinnati Compares”
David Swindell
February 1, 1996
The Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions

Hamilton County, Ohio, asks taxpayers to approve a sales tax increase to raise funds to subsidize new sports stadiums for the Reds and Bengals. Ultimately, taxpayers must determine for themselves whether an investment in sports will make life better.

“Sports Stadiums Can Be Privately Financed”
David Swindell
September 1, 1995
The Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions

Report concludes Ohio is out of step with other states and cities, which have moved away from public financing, and toward private financing, of sports stadiums.

“Stadiums, Professional Sports, and Economic Development: Assessing the Reality”
Robert A. Baade
Heartland Policy Study No. 62
April 4, 1994
The Heartland Institute

After examining an unprecedented quantity of data, Baade finds no factual basis for the conventional argument that professional sports stadiums and teams have a significant impact on a region’s economic growth.

John W. Skorburg ([email protected]) is associate editor of Budget & Tax News and a visiting lecturer in economics at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

For more information …

on the high cost of publicly funded sports stadiums, visit PolicyBot™, The Heartland Institute’s free online policy research database. Point your Web browser to http://www.heartland.org and click on the PolicyBot™ button. Choose the topic/subtopic combination Economic Development/Stadiums and Convention Centers for more than 100 documents, in PDF and HTML formats, on the issue.