Perils of Publicly-Financed Stadiums

I’m shocked (SHOCKED!) to find that the public financing of a stadium turned out to be a bad deal for the taxpayers:

CINCINNATI—Here in Hamilton County, where one in seven people lives beneath the poverty line and budget cuts have left gaps in the schools and sheriffs department, residents are bracing for more belt-tightening: rollback of a property-tax break promised as part of a 1996 plan to entice voters to pay for two new stadiums.

The tax hit is just the latest in a string of unforeseen consequences from what has turned into one of the worst professional sports deals ever struck by a local government—soaking up unprecedented tax dollars and county resources while returning little economic benefit.

The next time a team throws a fit and says they’re moving if they don’t get a new taxpayer-financed stadium, the city should let them walk. Better that than building a facility for a team that never materializes:

Almost four years ago, Kansas City’s civic and business leaders celebrated the opening of the Sprint Center, a 19,000-seat arena that was supposed to replace the decrepit and unloved Kemper Arena while also landing an NBA franchise for a first-rate basketball town that thinks of itself as superior to NBA cities like Memphis, San Antonio, and Oklahoma City. (Oklahoma City!) As you might have noticed — though you might not have, as we’re talking about Kansas City here — things have not gone as planned. Currently the Sprint Center is home to an arena football team and not much else.

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