Stadium Development Could Hurt More Than Help

<p>New data on stadium development show that economic benefits fall way short of public investment.</p>
July 23, 2008, 5am PDT | Nate Berg
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"Just a few years ago, the corner of M Street and New Jersey Avenue was not somewhere you wanted to be after dark. It was part of Washington's notorious Southeast neighborhood, rife with drugs, crime and poverty. But today, about 30,000 baseball fans flock here 80 nights a year to watch the Washington Nationals play in their new $611 million stadium."

"While the neighborhood is certainly undergoing a renaissance, what's uncertain is how much credit should go to the ballpark. It's a question that has been debated countless times before, over other stadiums, but the historical evidence is pretty clear."

"Yes, stadiums do create high-paying construction jobs for a year or two. But the vast majority of long-term employment is low-wage concession jobs. A Congressional Research Service study of the Baltimore Ravens stadium found that each job created cost the state $127,000. By comparison, Maryland's Sunny Day Fund created jobs for about $6,000 each."

"Consider the New York Yankees, who have the highest payroll in baseball and take in more than $300 million a year just from their television network. They'll move into a new $1 billion stadium next year, about half of which was covered by the taxpayers. Seats behind home plate that cost $250 this year will be ten times that next year. The net result is that very few of the people who paid for the stadium will be able to afford a seat there."

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Published on Thursday, July 17, 2008 in The Wall Street Journal
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