NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Taxpayers Strike Out In Subsidized Ballparks

April 6, 1999

No new stadium was christened at the start of this baseball season. The Seattle Mariners will move into their new $498 million park in July, however.

On opening day in 2000 there will be new ballparks for the Houston Astros, the Milwaukee Brewers and the San Francisco Giants. Only the Giants' new stadium will be funded primarily with private dollars. Taxpayers will be footing the bill for the rest.

  • During the 20th Century, more than $20 billion (in 1997 dollars) has been spent on major league stadiums and arenas -- including at least $14.7 billion in taxpayer subsidies.
  • That figure does not include billions in subsidies through the use of tax-free municipal bonds and interests paid on debt.
  • For the rest of this year and the next several years, another conservative estimate points to more than $13.5 billion more being spent on new major league facilities -- including more than $9 billion in taxpayer subsidies.

While team owners argue that sports facilities can't be built without hitting up taxpayers, the fact is that a great number of stadiums were privately funded in the past and a number are being privately financed now -- including arenas in Columbus, Los Angeles and Denver.

Source: Raymond J. Keating (Cato Institute), "Squeeze Play: Do Baseball Stadiums Need Our Bucks to Get Built?" Washington Post, April 5, 1999.


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