Do Sports Stadiums Help Or Hurt Their Communities?
The 32 team owners of the National Football League met in Chicago yesterday, and a major part of their discussion centered on proposals by three teams—the San Diego Chargers, Oakland Raiders and St. Louis Rams—for new stadiums. The two proposals would build $1.5 billion stadiums in the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Inglewood and Carson, one for the Rams and a joint stadium for the Chargers and Raiders.
Proponents of the deal say that stadiums can offer major economic benefits for the neighborhoods in which they are placed, but does this idea actually hold up? West Virginia University professor of economics Brad Humphreys tells Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson that sometimes, the opposite is the case.
Interview Highlights: Brad Humphreys
On the lack of an NFL franchise in Los Angeles
“As a matter of public policy, we’ve allowed leagues to operate as monopolies. That means that they control where all the franchises are, and how many franchises there are in each league. So the fact that there has not been an NFL team in Los Angeles since 1994—a very long period of time—is a direct consequence of this public policy which allows the NFL to operate as a monopoly. If the NFL didn’t have the power to control where teams were, there would have been an NFL franchise in Los Angeles the minute the Rams moved out.”
On why he testified against the new stadium for the Washington Nationals baseball team
“It was a bad deal. Yes, it will spur development nearby in the area there, but you’re simply moving economic activity from one part of Washington D.C. to another. So all the new bars and things that are there near Nationals stadium, the people that are buying drinks and meals and things like that in those bars and restaurants, they would have bought meals and drinks somewhere else in the Washington D.C. area. So you’ve really just moved the economic activity from one place to the other, and in the meantime you’ve spent hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to do that.”
On the drawbacks of gentrification in neighborhoods near new stadiums
“The tax dollars come from broad segments of society across the income distribution, and then you’re using those taxpayer dollars to subsidize and to the benefit of people who are clearly in the very upper end of the income distribution: the team owners and the players. So that has to reduce income equality or increase income inequality.”
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