Study: Taxpayer-Backed NBA Arenas Don’t Help Local Economies

Over the last few decades, sports franchise owners have been hugely successful in convincing governments to give them money in the form of taxpayer-funded stadiums and arenas. A favored approach is to threaten to pull up stakes and move a team, and its attendant economic benefits, to another city.

American Airlines Arena, home of the NBA-champion Miami Heat, has received over $100M in taxpayer subsidies (##http://www.miamitodaynews.com/news/120329/story2.shtml##none of which have been paid back##). Photo via ##http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Airlines_Arena##Wikipedia##

Though taxpayers are often left holding the bag for these new facilities, the ploy works time and again. It seems not many politicians want to be blamed for sending a beloved (or even not so beloved) team packing.

Erica C. Barnett at Network site PubliCola writes that a new study from George Washington University finds that professional basketball arenas, like one now proposed for Seattle (which recently lost its NBA team to Oklahoma City), are of questionable economic value to the public.

The study — which looked exclusively at basketball-only and basketball-hockey multipurpose arenas — found “no statistically significant association between having an NBA arena or an NBA franchise” and city residents’ personal income, a standard indicator of economic growth.

In particular, cities with sports other than basketball (like Seattle, which has soccer, pro football, college football, women’s basketball, and baseball teams, and could get a hockey team under the proposed arena deal) were unlikely to benefit economically from new basketball arenas.

Even in cases where basketball arenas do correspond with higher regional incomes, public tax subsidies for arenas tend to erase those gains. And the more recently an arena was built, the worse its economic impact is on the population.

Also on the Network today: Let’s Go Ride A Bike wants to hear about your bike-share experiences; Second Avenue Sagas looks forward to not missing the New York MTA MetroCard; and BikingInLA shares a harrowing story of traffic justice denied.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Milwaukee Could Pay Big Bucks for Downtown NBA Arena, and Its Parking

|
Publicly-financed arenas for privately-owned sports franchises are usually a bad deal for taxpayers. And the proposal for a new Milwaukee Bucks facility looks like a humdinger. Patrick Small at Urban Milwaukee reports that city officials, including Mayor Tom Barrett, haven’t told residents exactly how much they could be on the hook for — though so far the Bucks have […]

Will Milwaukee Fall for the Convention Center Shakedown?

|
This is how it begins: Local leaders in Milwaukee commissioned a study examining whether the city’s convention center is up to snuff. Surprise, surprise, reports Bruce Murphy at Urban Milwaukee: Hunden Strategic Partners, a consulting firm that loves convention centers, says Milwaukee really ought to be pumping a bunch of public money into expanding its convention facilities and a […]

GM Bailout Will Cost Taxpayers as Much as $12 Billion

|
“Government Motors” no more. The federal government is calling in its loans to General Motors, which received a taxpayer-funded injection of almost $50 billion at the height of the financial meltdown in 2008. Over the next 12 to 15 months, President Obama says the world’s largest automaker, which has been turning a healthy profit since 2010, […]

The Public Funds Sports Teams, But Teams Won’t Fund Transit to Games

|
Professional sports stadiums put a strain on transportation networks. While good transit service to games can lessen the traffic burden and help everyone get to sports venues more easily, this often imposes additional costs on transit agencies. Despite all the public subsidies pro sports teams receive, they rarely help pay for this service. It doesn’t have […]

Menendez Launches Big Oil Subsidy Tracker

|
As we head into the Memorial Day holiday, and move from one congressional recess to another [PDF], Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) has given us something to do with our extra free time: Watch taxpayer subsidies to big oil climb higher and higher. The clock, dubbed a STOP watch (for “Stop Taxpayer Oil Payouts”), tracks the […]