Public Funding of Sports Stadiums

Feb 3rd, 2012
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Since 2000, 28 new major league1 stadiums have been built costing over $9 billion dollars. More than half, over $5 billion, of the costs of the new stadiums were funded using public dollars.2 In Utah, 4 stadiums have been built since 1991 costing $386 million in today’s dollars; $200 million (in today’s dollars) of that total was paid out of the coffers of Utah cities, Salt Lake County and the State of Utah

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Public Funding of Sports StadiumsPolicy Brief: 04-30-08BySarah Wilhelm, Ph.D.Economic Research and ConsultingTopic Area: Public Finance Public Funding of Sports StadiumsPolicy Brief: 04-01-08Author:Sarah Wilhelm, Ph.D.Economic Research and ConsultingEmail:swilhelm@bresnan.netpolicy@cppa.utah.eduWeb:www.cppa.utah.eduIntroductionSince 2000, 28 new major league1 stadiums have been built costing over $9 billion dollars. More than half, over $5 billion, of the costs of the new stadiums were funded using public dollars.2 In Utah, 4 stadiums have been built since 1991 costing $386 million in today's dollars; $200 million (in today's dollars) of that total was paid out of the coffers of Utah cities, Salt Lake County and the State of Utah.3 Across the nation, franchises have argued that building a new stadium will lead to economic development in the form of increased incomes, jobs and tax revenues. However, the preponderance of academic research has disputed these claims. This article looks at the benefits and costs of building a stadium and discusses why the economic development argument has failed to stand up to academic scrutiny. Stadium-seeking franchises are now shying away from making economic development claims in light of the strong research findings. Franchises are able to make quality of life arguments and, given the monopoly power of the major sports leagues, cities are responding by competing for a limited number of franchises by offering to fund stadi

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