There was an interesting article on WSJ.com the other day that should resonate with anyone following the news in Richmond regarding the debate over the Baseball Park initiative. This is an issue that cities across the U.S. are struggling over.
It would be interesting to see some kind of official reaction to this information from both/all sides of the local debate.
But while arenas with big-time tenants may bolster a city’s self-image and quality of life, evidence shows they have a minimal economic upside. Most operate at a loss.
In "The Economics of Sports Facilities and Their Communities," published in 2000 in the Journal of Economic Perspectives, authors Andrew Zimbalist of Smith College and John Siegfried of Vanderbilt University argue that "independent work on the economic impact of stadiums and arenas has uniformly found that there is no statistically significant positive correlation between sports facility construction and economic development."
The authors cite several studies, including one by sports economist Robert Baade that found "no significant difference in personal income growth from 1958 to 1987 between 36 metropolitan areas that hosted a team in one of the four premier professional sports leagues and 12 otherwise comparable areas that did not." The authors’ conclusion: Arenas put a drag on the local economy by hurting spending on other activities in the city and boosting municipal costs such as security.