Now it looks like the team might finally get their stadium. Recently elected Florida Gov. Charlie Crist says he is a fan of using taxpayer money to subsidize sports stadiums.
Crist, a former minor league baseball attorney and one-time college quarterback, said stadiums rev up local economies and benefit communities in other ways.
”I would look favorably upon it,” Crist said at The Associated Press’ annual legislative preview meeting.
Lucky Florida taxpayers.
John Sugg, a columnist for the liberal weekly rag Creative Loafing, which publishes in Atlanta, Tampa, Charlotte and Sarasota, is a fervent opponent of publicly financed stadiums. And whether he’s arguing against a new football stadium in Atlanta, or a new baseball stadium in Tampa, Sugg always points to a 1994 study conducted by Lake Forest College Prof. Robert Baade.
From Creative Loafing:
You’ll be blasted with a lot of bombast about the value of football teams and stadiums in the near future. Basically, it’s exaggeration and, often, mendacity. What you won’t hear much of are experts such as Robert Baade, a professor at Lake Forest College in Illinois. In 1994, Baade studied 48 cities, including Atlanta, over a 30-year period. He found only two cities where the presence of sports teams nudged the economy — Indianapolis (positive) and Baltimore (negative).
Of the 30 cities where there was a change in the number of stadiums or arenas 10 years old or less, 27 areas showed no relationship between the presence of a stadium and any economic benefit to the community. In all three of the remaining cases (St. Louis, San Francisco/Oakland and Washington D.C.), the stadium had a significantly negative impact.
“Sports investments appear to be an economically unsound use of a community’s scarce financial resources,” Baade concludes.
I don’t know if sports stadiums have become more or less profitable for their respective cities since Baade’s study came out 13 years ago. But the idea of taxpayer-financed stadiums has always struck me as a bit unfair. If taxpayers are going to pay for stadiums, shouldn’t the state at least get parking and luxury box revenues? If we, as taxpayers, are going to make a huge investment like that, what exactly are we getting in return?
**Note: An earlier version of this post featured a photo of RFK Stadium, where the Nationals play. The current photo is an artist’s rendering of what a new Marlins stadium might look like.