An interesting policy debate from AEI. The summary:
In the wake of controversial plans to build new, taxpayer-subsidized stadiums in Minneapolis and Atlanta, economists of all stripes have been skeptical of the actual economic gains created by these projects. At an AEI event on Thursday, Travis Waldron of the Center for American Progress and the University of Maryland’s Dennis Coates suggested that this issue has been muddied by dubious claims that new stadiums will create an economic boon in the surrounding community. Coates noted that the benefit the average citizen receives from stadium subsidies is far less than the benefit he or she receives from other public goods such as police patrols and crime prevention. Waldron argued that bureaucrats should call it like it is and acknowledge that taxpayers are paying to keep their local professional teams in service.
AEI’s own Kevin Hassett raised the question of whether state-sponsored stadiums have different kinds of positive utility for society that might allow them to be considered public goods. Sports teams foster a sense of geographical loyalty, which allows citizens to feel more connected to the cities they inhabit. Steve Marsh of Grantland agreed, describing stadium subsidies as necessary public assets that create a unique type of value for local citizens.