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Stadiums. Don’t. Work.

The economics literature is clear, but Orlando leaders just don’t care

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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.

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