NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 13, 2004

The Washington, D.C., city council is on the verge of approving plans for a luxurious new baseball stadium for the city's new baseball team. Proponents argue that the new stadium will generate jobs and tax revenue. The Reason Foundation, however, argues that the new stadium will hurt the city.

The city's chief financial officer says building the 41,000-seat stadium will cost more than $500 million. The mayor argues that the investment will yield $1.1 billion in economic benefits, yet, these benefits are very dubious, says Reason. The mayor's calculations include 360 new stadium-related jobs "earning an annual total of $84 billion" -- more than $260,000 a job.

Additionally, economic evidence is strongly against public stadiums. For example.

  • In a written letter to the D.C. city council, 80 economists argued that new sports stadiums do not increase employment or incomes, because they do not increase overall entertainment spending.
  • Rather, stadiums merely shift entertainments spending from other venues.
  • A recent Cato Institute paper analyzed 37 cities between 1969 and 1996 and found that the presence of pro sports teams had a negative impact on residents' income.

Reason concludes that while baseball is a good idea for Washington, a publicly funded baseball stadium is not.

Source: Jacob Sullum, "Ballpark Figures,", November 12, 2004.

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