Holy cow the government spent $3.7 billion on sports stadiums since 2000

"Your tax dollars at work."

We see these signs posted near highway construction sites all the time. Now we need to post them in front of dozens of stadiums and arenas around the country.

The Brookings Institute has added up the total amount of federal tax subsidies paid for new stadiums since 2000. The tab is mind-boggling: $3.7 billion.

You read that correctly. Since 2000, the federal government has essentially gifted $3.7 billion of taxpayer dollars to build stadiums that make money for their billionaire owners — but for pretty much no one else.

As the authors explain:

[T]here is little evidence that stadiums provide even local economic benefits. Decades of academic studies consistently find no discernible positive relationship between sports facilities and local economic development, income growth, or job creation. And local benefits aside, there is clearly no economic justification for federal subsidies for sports stadiums. Residents of, say, Wyoming, Maine, or Alaska have nothing to gain from the Washington-area football team’s decision to locate in Virginia, Maryland, or the District of Columbia.

It's obvious that taxpayers are losing money on these stadium subsidy deals, so it's even more important that fans get something out of them: more affordable tickets, parking and concessions; free use of the stadiums by kids' leagues; free tickets for active military and veterans; and so on.

If the taxpayers are picking up the tab, they'd better see some tangible benefits — instead of the same debunked arguments about magical boosts to local economies that are almost never realized.

Keep this all in mind as you hear more in the coming weeks and months about Sheldon Adelson's push to grab hundreds of millions in subsidies for a new Las Vegas football stadium. We'll have a lot more coming up on that front, so stay tuned.

You can download the entire Brookings report here.

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  • David Denning
    commented 2016-09-21 18:00:50 -0400
    Most sports fans are jaded and delusional, brainwashed and resolved to just except the status quo . Look around at the state of the country and the economy and ask yourself are we living in such prosperous times to justify these outrageous, ridiculous player and coach salaries? The outrageous cost of everything from ticket prices, concessions, parking and…new stadiums which always vastly exceed their projected budgets. What budget right?

    The Rams left L.A. in 1994 for more riches, got their riches and now their back in L.A. again for even more riches with their future new $2.6 billion dollar stadium. I’d love to know how much of that is going to be taxpayer subsidized. It’s the way of our socialist U.S.A. The rich get richer and richer in carefully planned scheme to make us all poorer. The government continues print money to fuel their unabated debt spending, keeping interest rates close to zero making it impossible to build savings for retirement, and in general is sucking the life out of all of us to keep their illegal ponzi scheme humming along. Big money controls us in every way. But hey, at least we’re being entertained while becoming poorer slaves at the same time.

    Now we have all of these NFL players demonstrating for political causes when they should be thanking US and lobbying for US so we keep supporting and watching the “games” that they play. Mynpersonal take is “I don’t want to be subjected to your political views. You guys need to just shut up and play, and maybe take a knee on gamedays not to demonstrate but to show thankfulness to us fans for you being able to live very large while the majority of us who support you don’t”.