Proof Positive

Read this, dear friend, and tell me that teams need taxpayer-funded stadia.

There are a few myths about stadium building. The first is that it brings money into the city, more money than is needed to build it. This is patently false: no economist who has studied the subject has found significant economic effect as a result of building a taxpayer-funded stadium.

The second myth is that teams can’t afford to build their own stadia. That’s false. Teams want someone else to build it and do the debt service; but the San Francisco Giants built Pac Bell Park out of Peter Magowan’s pockets, and they have the most local operating revenue of any team. Sure, they have $20M of debt service, but it makes more economic sense in the long run for a team to build its own stadium.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I understand people who push for taxpayer-funded stadia. If owners want to be stupid and ignore the cash cow they can milk, that’s fine. And having a city-owned stadium, while it doesn’t provide much revenue, does promote civic pride. But I see little reason in government subsidy of private business, especially when that business could stand to make more money if they’d build the thing on their own.