Prince William County, Virginia Stadium Deal Called Off

Published August 30, 2017

Before the Prince William County (Virginia) Board of County Supervisors reached a vote on a stadium financing deal for the Potomac Nationals minor-league baseball team, owner Art Silber called the deal off.

Silber asked the supervisors to withdraw plans to vote on July 13, killing the deal. Silber had been asking the county to take on $35 million in public debt to pay for the stadium’s construction. 

‘This Is Corporate Welfare’

Caleb Taylor, director of policy and opportunity for the Virginia Institute for Public Policy, says the first step in solving a problem, such as sports stadium subsidization, is calling it by its name.

“The first thing that needs to happen is reframing the conversation and understanding that this is corporate welfare, and only calling it that,” Taylor said.

“That is the first step: making sure that everyone knows that we’re not talking about our favorite sports team, but that we are talking about corporate welfare to a corporation in the local or state area,” Taylor said.           

Taxpayers ‘Better Off’

J. C. Bradbury, a professor of economics at Kennesaw State University, says the deal’s collapse is a home run for taxpayers.

“The taxpayers of Prince William County will be better off financially, now that the burden of paying off stadium debt is gone,” Bradbury said. “Instead of spending their dollars on minor league baseball, they can spend it on other local entertainment options.”

Taxpayer-funded stadiums may have nonfinancial benefits, but they’re not good investments of taxpayer money, Bradbury says.

“If you want a minor league team in your neighborhood and don’t mind paying for it, that is fine,” Bradbury said. “But don’t be fooled into thinking that it is a good financial investment that will pay off.”