Sports Stadiums: Economic Development or Corporate Welfare?

Sports are often a great unifier for society. They give us arbitrary, even petty rivalries that we can lean into without taking too seriously at the same time that they bring people together.

But sports, particularly at the professional level, can be expensive. Even ignoring things like player salaries, equipment, and an extensive staff, every sports team needs a place to call home, and stadium costs can easily run in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

That’s not really something most folks worry about as long as wealthy sports team owners are paying for their own stadiums, but city and state governments increasingly view stadium construction as a form of economic stimulus. As a result, there’s a strong temptation to funnel public funds towards these projects, either in the form of direct subsidies, or by giving teams a tax break.

Here to talk about how all of this works, including the pros and cons of this kind of development strategy, we have some guests who have spent a lot of time following the issue:

  • Marc Fisher, senior editor with the Washington Post who covers a range of topics, including some of the economic effects of the Washington Nationals ballpark, joins us on the phone
  • Michael Farren, research fellow here at the Mercatus Center and repeat guest on the show
  • Anne Philpot, research assistant here at Mercatus who has spent a lot of time tracking stadium financing and its effects on local economies

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This week's featured beer is from Salty Turtle in Surf City, North Carolina!