Stadiums. Don’t. Work.
The economics literature is clear, but Orlando leaders just don’t care
Published: August 21, 2013
And yet all over the country, cities keep buying in. In bankrupt Detroit, even as city workers’ pensions evaporate and cops are laid off, taxpayers are on the hook for a $444 million hockey arena that the city’s emergency manager claims is “going to be a boon for the city.” The Miami Marlins, owners of MLB’s lowest attendance numbers, just a few years ago conned taxpayers into building what Forbes called “baseball’s most expensive disaster,” a $639 million facility that, because of its financing scheme, will cost Miami $3 billion before all is said and done.
Orlando, meanwhile, has built the Orlando Magic a $480 million arena, committed about $200 million renovating the Citrus Bowl and is now contemplating a soccer stadium financed by at least $70 million in local and state taxes. Of that, $20 million will come directly from city coffers in the form of land and tax breaks, even while Orlando is nursing a $12 million budget deficit.
The verdict is in: This is bad public policy. We’re just not paying attention.
So maybe Bud Selig should give Orlando a call. We’re gullible enough.
> Email Jeffrey C. Billman