« Cargo Cult Economics | Main | Capitalism is Proving Too Dynamic For Progressives »

Admission That Was A Long Time in Coming

The Seattle Supersonics have finally admitted what rational folks have known for a long time:  Billion dollar municipal stadiums are just taxpayer subsidies for already-rich players and owners, and do nothing for local economic development. Here is what the Sonics ownership stated in court papers (part of a case where they are trying to break their lease in Seattle):

"The financial issue is simple, and the city's analysts agree, there will be no net economic loss if the Sonics leave Seattle. Entertainment dollars not spent on the Sonics will be spent on Seattle's many other sports and entertainment options. Seattleites will not reduce their entertainment budget simply because the Sonics leave," the Sonics said in the court brief.

...Rodney Fort, a professor of sports management at the University of Michigan, who has criticized the economic-impact claims made by pro-sports teams, called the Sonics' latest argument "the best chuckle" he's had in a long time.

Municipal stadium funding and team relocation blackmail as a prisoners dilemma game here.

My son learned of one additional downside this year to subsidizing an expensive stadium for the hapless Cardinals.  He is a huge Cowboys fan, and there was to be a really good matchup in regular season this year that would be televised nationally (I can't remember which game, maybe the Packers regular season game).  We did not get to see the game, because the local network was obligated to show the Cardinals game instead.  If you have no team, you always get the best game on TV.

Posted on January 18, 2008 at 12:24 PM | Permalink

Comments

"If you have no team, you always get the best game on TV." As someone who has lived in AZ since the late 70s, I say BS. We always get the worst game, before Cards and after the Cards came. Living in AZ promises once thing it's the least interesting games will be aired any given Sunday.

I usually have to go find a bar to watch the games I want...

Posted by: Thomas | Jan 18, 2008 1:39:20 PM

yeah that should be revised to say "you will get the best game available unless you are considered a "secondary market" for a lousy team.
and there will be a huge economic loss if the sonics leave, the entire market for Bentleys tatoos and oversized diamonds will be gone.

Posted by: bryan | Jan 18, 2008 2:18:52 PM

I wasn't the Packers game. That was a Thursday night game (only game in its time slot), and it was only on NFL Network (unless you live in Green Bay or Dallas), so you probably couldn't have watched it anyway. Not that I'm bitter...

Posted by: Randomscrub | Jan 18, 2008 4:11:46 PM

I am a huge SF 49ers fan and the team has been so unwatchable the last couple of years I have very seriously considered getting DirectTV so when the 49ers put up another stinker I can find a watchable game. The worst thing is that in a two team market, the second game is usually the Raiders (and for a 49er fan watching the Raiders is a fate worse than death)

Posted by: Jimk | Jan 18, 2008 6:07:56 PM

Posted by: bryan | Jan 18, 2008 2:18:52 PM

I wasn't the Packers game. That was a Thursday night game (only game in its time slot), and it was only on NFL Network (unless you live in Green Bay or Dallas), so you probably couldn't have watched it anyway. Not that I'm bitter...

True that... the Thursday games were a totally different nightmare. If it was a Cardinal's game it would have to have been a Sunday game that was going on at the same time.

The top marque games for the latter half of the season that would apply:
7) Minnesota at Dallas
9) San Diego at Minnesota
10) Dallas at N.Y. Giants
11) New England at Buffalo, San Diego at Jacksonville

I think he just doesn't like Arizona... he didn't miss more than two good games out of that bunch. : )

Posted by: Randomscrub | Jan 18, 2008 4:11:46 PM

I am a huge SF 49ers fan and the team has been so unwatchable the last couple of years I have very seriously considered getting DirectTV so when the 49ers put up another stinker I can find a watchable game. The worst thing is that in a two team market, the second game is usually the Raiders (and for a 49er fan watching the Raiders is a fate worse than death)

Not true for me (though in most years what you say has been totally true)! The Raiders were so bad this year they didn't sell out by mid-season. I got to see the Packers a lot more than I expected because the Raiders stunk!

Posted by: David | Jan 18, 2008 9:28:26 PM

I'm interested in the idea of a stadium as the cornerstone of a redevelopment project. One spot to keep an eye is Commerce City, Colorado. It's long been known as the armpit of metro Denver. And since the Rocky Mountain Arsenal closed they've coughed up @1/2 the cost for a large 24 field soccer field complex anchored by an 18,000+ stadium for the MLS' Colorado Rapids. It's to be the cornerstone for a new downtown Commerce City just north of I-270. Interested doesn't mean I support all the tax money going into the project. It does mean I'm curious to see how it goes in 2005+. One of the excuses I've heard for projects like Minneapolis' Metrodome failing to do anything for re-development the neighborhood surrounding them. Well, it's 25 years later and they have a lot of knowledge to put to work.

Then again, like local governments do all-too often, they just make it their vision happen through subsidies and TIFFs and let tax payers in the rest of the city pay enough for the projects to get them to "work".

Posted by: Allen | Jan 18, 2008 11:12:36 PM

Yeah, I hate the NFL rules about TV games. I'm a Redskins fan (yeah, yeah, I know) who lives outside Baltimore, and I really don't like the Ravens, to the point where I'll only root for them against the Cowboys. But because of the rules, for every home game, we get screwed out of a double header game. Plus, we're a secondary market for the Redskins, so even if we get a double header, the majority of the other games we have to watch are NFC East or AFC North games. Both divisions are just horribly boring.

It's worse for my friend in NYC tho. They have a home game every week...

Posted by: Highway27 | Jan 18, 2008 11:13:52 PM

Here’s the stupid Packers business article:

http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=709004

Here’s the really big Packers business article:

http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=709037

Here’s the actual business article:

http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=706635

Here’s my shareholder prediction:

Posted by: Mesa Econoguy | Jan 19, 2008 2:21:04 AM

DirecTV and NFL ticket, I watch any game I want and DirecTV has more HD channels that cable.

Being the free market guy I am then I don't mind paying extra for what I want. I get to chose between spending the money and getting what I want or saving the money and complaining about what is free.

Posted by: will | Jan 19, 2008 4:02:14 AM

I live near the Oregon Ducks Stadium and a sports bar opened up across from it a few years ago. Guess what happened? The bar went under and now it's an estate sales place. If you think about it, a dozen games over a few months doesn't make for the best business conditions. When there isn't a game going on, what is there to attract business?

Posted by: Ian Random | Jan 20, 2008 1:36:29 PM

And the best part about all of this? Not only are the Sonics using this argument to get out of a lease for a stadium they originally obtained by arguing the exact opposite, but the team is actually using the "economic development" angle on Oklahomans in its attempt to gain funding for the relocation.

Posted by: who's your nanny? | Jan 22, 2008 12:06:20 PM

Gee they are saying what everyone else has known all along, pro sports teams are not the be all end all they always claimed to be.

Please let this get out and then lets see the next public funded stadium come up for debate that should be good.

Seattle should force them to stay for the entire length of their contract and the citizens of Seattle should all boycott all their games till they are gone. Make them pay and not get any profit for a few years just for screwing your city over with BS lies and misrepresentations about their impact when they wanted a new place to play.

If I was in Washington St. I would want to make sure they suffer a major economic impact directly to the team. You could call it the Non-economic incentive plan. They wanted it and they got it now they should have to live with it and all that comes from their lies.

Posted by: Dee | Jan 22, 2008 2:28:18 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.