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

Fans pack Metro train after a Nationals game. Photo: Wikipedia
Fans pack Metro train after a Nationals game. Photo: Wikipedia

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 to be this way, says Richard Layman at Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space.

Layman reports that, of DC’s NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB teams, only the basketball and hockey arena has an agreement to pay WMATA for added transit service necessitated by games.

He writes:

The Washington Nationals have refused to put such an agreement in place, despite the city’s preference that they do so and the fact that the city is paying hundreds of millions of dollars for the team’s stadium. The city didn’t put a provision for transit coverage in the contract so the Nationals, see no reason to do so.

The result, says Layman, is uneven transit service to and from games, which is frustrating for fans who can’t or don’t want to drive. It also puts the onus on WMATA to accommodate the teams — which, as Layman notes, may already benefit from taxpayer subsidies.

Layman recommends that cities include “transportation demand management requirements” in stadium contracts, and zone for stadium construction only in areas already served by transit.

Of course, many communities are so eager to get a team that transit service and station adjacency ends up being, at best, an afterthought.

For example, the Atlanta Braves baseball team is moving out of the city to the suburbs, to the Galleria district of Cobb County, located at the intersection of I-285 and I-75, which is an area not served at all by MARTA’s heavy rail transit system.

Elsewhere on the Network: Spacing Toronto tours rail stations that were built and never used, and TheCityFix looks at the growth of bike-share systems worldwide.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Forget Your Bike Lock? Businesses in Portland Have You Covered

|
From around the Network today: Portland’s private sector takes cyclist accommodation to a new level; metro DC bungles transportation at its sports venues; and a potentially transformational piece of legislation in California loses its oomph. Portland Businesses Loan Bike Locks to Forgetful Customers: It’s interesting how businesses are taking leading roles in making Portland even […]

Advocates: Mobilizing Transit Riders a Challenge, Even in Transit-Rich Cities

|
With fewer Americans driving and transit ridership breaking records, you might think transit has plenty of muscle behind it. But while the numbers speak for themselves, the riders often don’t. That’s why local efforts to establish grassroots transit advocacy organizations are so important, said a panel of experts convened by the Center for Transportation Excellence this Wednesday. […]

Calling on Fans of Transit: Get in the Game

|
Rob Perks is the transportation advocacy director at the Natural Resources Defense Council. As someone who commutes to work on the Metro, I’m a big fan of public transportation. Earlier this week, as I was persusing the sports section of the Washington Post, I read a great story about a super fan. His name is Joel […]

Top 10 Reasons to Oppose the House Transpo Bill

|
Congress is in recess this week, but that doesn’t mean the furor surrounding the House transportation bill has died down. Transportation for America has put together a top ten list of the reasons opposition to the bill is so strong. Here’s one of the lesser known implications: #7. Requires More Bureaucracy at Transit Agencies: In […]

Yes, Transit Belongs in the Highway Trust Fund

|
As gas tax revenues wane, making it harder to finance a long-term transportation bill, ideas are beginning to circulate about how to save the (very poorly named) Highway Trust Fund. Some say the gas tax needs to rise. Others say fewer programs need to be financed out of the fund, which pays for all federal […]