Friday, February 04, 2011

Even If You Don't Like Sports, You Might Be Paying For Them

See The Price of Football That Even Nonfans Pay by Mark Frost. From the Wall Street Journal, page D6, February 3, 2011. Cities spend tax payers money on stadiums. They don't always generated the hoped for benefits and some cities are still paying for stadiums that have be demolished. Here are some excerpts from the article:

"...the state (i.e., the taxpayers) still owes about $110 million in debt on the old Giants Stadium."

"Harris County, Texas, still owes about $32 million in debt on the Houston Astrodome, which opened in 1965 and was dubbed the "Eighth Wonder of the World." The RCA Dome in Indianapolis, which was demolished in 2008, still has about $60 million of outstanding debt and will not be paid off for at least 10 years. Even tiny Vero Beach, Fla., longtime home to Dodgers Spring Training, is on the hook for some $17 million in debt after the Dodgers moved to Glendale, Ariz., two years ago. Pima County, Ariz., taxpayers similarly still have to pay $21.3 million in stadium debt after the Chicago White Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks moved their training camps to Phoenix from Tucson."

""The problem with tearing down stadiums early isn't the debt," said Neil deMause, who co-wrote "Field of Schemes" (Bison) and blogs at a website with the same name. "It's the revenues that you're giving up by allowing teams to move into new buildings with sweetheart leases.""

"...there was nothing functionally wrong with the old Yankee Stadium, the old Giants Stadium, or many other stadiums that have been replaced over the past decade. The problem was that the old stadiums didn't generate enough luxury revenue. So New Jersey, which is about $36 billion in debt at last count, gave up about $15 million in annual tax revenue so that the Giants and Jets could be more profitable."

"The politicians spent the money that was originally intended to pay off the debt on other things. It's a common problem. Revenues get diverted to other programs and the stadium debt gets refinanced."

"The other problem is that cities often overestimate how much revenue a stadium tax will generate—and they often do it to make the new tax and the new stadium more palatable to the citizenry."


Belinda said...

There must be some intangible value in sports stadiums. In Australia, I don't know about the financial side, but the sports grounds play an enormous role in the quality of life.

Cyril Morong said...

Thanks for dropping by and commenting. What you are suggesting is possible. But can you clarify it some? How exactly is the quality of life affected?

Belinda said...

I don't know about'exactly', but in Melbourne for example the people are sports crazy. It dominates conversation and the media. They even have a public holiday for a horse race. The enjoyment that people get from high quality sport is more than the cost of the ticket.
Regards, Belinda

Cyril Morong said...

Economists assume that any time you buy a product (sports ticket or something else), you value it at least as much as the price you paid (otherwise, you would not buy it). Maybe people do get alot of enjoyment out of talking about the local sports team. But it is hard to put a price tag on that and know if the tax payers should be forced to pay for it.

In the U.S., sometimes a team threatens to move to another city if the government does not build them a stadium. So if they did move, there could be this loss. But again, just how valuable is it? People talk about alot of things but that does mean the taxpayers should fund those things.

Anyway, here is a link to an article that discusses economists attempts to put a value on these intangibles

Cyril Morong said...

Here is another version of the link

What Price Vikings Fandom? Funny You Should Ask