Stadiums Don't Pay

InTransition Magazine talks to Rick Eckstein, author of <em>Public Dollars, Private Stadiums: The Battle over Building Sports Stadiums</em> about why stadiums fail to fulfill their promises of economic revitalization.
August 29, 2008, 8am PDT | Tim Halbur
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"Eckstein began studying the issue in depth after seeing a stadium referendum shot down by Pittsburgh voters in the late 1990s, only for city leaders to fund it through other means later. He has been quoted widely by media outlets throughout the recent stadium boom, making few friends among sports fans along the way.

When you add up the tangible economic indicators-such as jobs created, tax ratables and sales revenues-it never justifies the investment of public dollars in construction, infrastructure upgrades, policing and other needs, he said. Only the team owners make out big in the end.

He said part of the reason for this is what social scientists call the 'substitution effect.' When a stadium is torn down so a new one can be built elsewhere, you're merely moving money from one place to another. The cash being spent at the arenas and new stores, hotels and restaurants that crop up around them is just cash not being spent on other forms of entertainment, he said."

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Published on Thursday, August 28, 2008 in InTransition Magazine
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