Taxpayers should not fund stadiums

Sports are part of the fabric that makes up the lifestyle of many U.S. citizens, but the amount of attention that sports get in this nation is concerning. Sports can bring us together after tragedies and are able to fill us with emotions ranging from sadness to absolute joy. Despite these benefits, sports are revered too highly in the United States.

The United States has 2,492 sports stadiums and that number is only increasing. Stadiums now include murals from famous artists, party suites and even pools. While these are all nice amenities, they are also very expensive. In order to pay for these additional luxuries, money from taxpayers is collected.The majority of stadiums are built using taxpayers’ money.

Between the years of 2000 and 2010, 51 new stadiums were built, which costed taxpayers $12 billion. Thirty-one of the 32 NFL stadiums were built without using any taxpayer money. The city of Detroit approved the spending of over $400 million in taxes on a new hockey arena for the Red Wings, even though the owner of the Red Wings has a net worth of $5.8 billion. Buying these stadiums may have contributed to the significant debt that cities like Detroit and Cincinnati went into only a few days later.

Not only are these stadiums built on public funds, but the teams are allowed to keep virtually all the revenue that is made. These funds are tax-exempt municipal bonds, which are ordinarily expected to be used for schools and road construction. These bonds allow cities to take out loans and pay them back later with interest. These funds, however, are often misused and allocated toward helping finance these stadiums because teams claim they cannot fund the work themselves.

It is even more deplorable and unprofessional that teams threaten to leave if they do not get a new stadium built. The St. Louis Rams recently relocated to Los Angeles for this very reason. It was also speculated that the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers were going to do the same.

In 1996, the Minnesota Twins threatened to leave and ran a very controversial advertisement in an attempt to gain support. It depicted a player from the Twins visiting a child with cancer. The advertisement said, “If the Twins leave Minnesota, an 8-year-old from Willmar undergoing chemotherapy will never get a visit from Marty Cordova.” This advertisement proves that sports teams have shamelessly squeezed out fear from their cities and fans to get them to succumb to their demands. These actions also demonstrate how arrogant and self-involved athletes can be when they know that their fans adore them so much.

The common claim teams make is that these stadiums will somehow work economic magic. Team members claim that erecting stadiums will have a ripple effect that will bring in more revenue and business to not only the stadium, but to surrounding businesses and the city itself. This could not be further from the truth.

The Econ Journal Watch conducted a 20-year study on the economic feasibility of building sports stadiums. The study “found no substantial evidence of increased jobs, income or tax revenues.” In a conversation with John Oliver, one economist stated that instead of building a billion-dollar stadium, it would be more effective to fly a plane over a city and dump one billion dollars on the people and let them pick up the money and spend it.

An economist from Stanford University also concluded that the same NFL stadiums do not generate significant local economic growth and the incremental tax revenue is not sufficient enough to cover any significant financial contributions by the city.

Fans are reaching a point where they show cult-like devotion to their favorite teams, blindly ignoring the costs to support them. The city of Cincinnati is buried in debt stemming from the stadiums of the Cincinnati Bengals and the Reds. In order to pay for this debt, the city has been forced to sell a hospital, delay school payments and cut over 1,000 jobs.

There is nothing wrong with being a fan of any professional sports team. It is an easy way to bond with family and friends, since it creates a very special connection. The problem comes

when fans seem to be totally fine with their favorite team holding a city accountable for a huge investment into a stadium. These teams bank on the fact their fans will pressure politicians to get their way, which an obvious indicator of a feeling of entitlement.

It is important to realize that U.S. citizens are often too preoccupied with sports. They are a fun diversion, but there are more important things happening in the world. Taxpayers’ money should not be allocated toward the creation of these stadiums when there are more important priorities.