Taxpayer funded Stadiums / by kevin murray

You can virtually always count on mega-rich owners of sports franchises using their power and influence to fleece taxpayers of their chosen city to subsidize and to build their sports stadiums.  The most egregious stadiums of public waste rest In the NFL for two primary reasons: the size and capacity of the stadium itself and the fact that the NFL can't guarantee more than ten home games a season (two: preseason, eight: regular season).  It doesn't take a genius to recognize that a state-of-the-art stadium that costs upwards of $650 million or more and is created primarily as a NFL stadium is a colossal waste of both money and space, yet 14 new NFL stadiums have been built since 2000.


Too often these stadiums are built without true taxpayer approval, the deep-pocketed owners instead preferring to do the runaround and deal directly with the city council or the mayor itself, as it is far easier to convince a handful of empowered people of the supposed benefits of a new stadium than to take the risk of putting the vote to the ballot.  The taxpayers will often be stuck with any or all of the following: a small increase in their sales tax rate, or hotel occupancy tax, or car rental tax, and an issuance of bonds to cover the expenditures needed to create the stadium and its inevitable cost overruns.


Of course, the proponents of the stadium building are always quick to point out the benefits of having such a modern and state-of-the-art facility.  It's great for the city image to have or continue to have this particular sports team, it will bring in spending dollars from surrounding communities, it will create jobs, and it will increase the value of the land surrounding the stadium.  Most of these statements are made up of whole cloth or close to it.  Instead, mayors, city council members, and other influential people within a city should be reminded that they have an absolute obligation to be good stewards of the public's money and not to build edifices around a wall of lies.  For instance, Los Angeles hasn't had a NFL team since 1995 and is the country's second largest media market.  Is LA any the worse for not having a team?


As bad as these matters are, what makes them worse is the shelf-life of stadiums continues to get shorter and shorter as time goes on.  In the NFL, in recent times, there have been five stadiums that were abandoned or demolished before they ever reached thirty years of occupancy.  Why is it that new stadiums have to be built as compared to a more sensible solution, such as the renovation of existing structures?  The oldest stadium in the NFL is Soldiers' Field in Chicago, which was built in 1924.  The only other stadium that has been in existence in the NFL for longer than 50 years is Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin, all other stadiums in the NFL are no older than 38 years old, a mere blink of an eye in time, when historic stadiums such as the Roman Coliseum have been standing for over 1,900 years and was in use for approximately 400 years or possibly more.


Stadiums cost a lot of money and this money should ideally be spent by the owners or the sports franchise itself, and not be something that is tacked onto taxpayers and unjustifiably takes away from necessary and sensible infrastructure usages such as roads, plumbing, schools, public services, and the like.