After the Minnesota Vikings and Ramsey County announced a plan to use public funds to build a new football stadium and complex, Minnesota Public Radio’s Michael Caputo asked if public financing of sports stadiums in Minnesota should end. UMBC Professor of Economics Dennis Coates argued “yes,” with a qualification: “Public financing for sports stadiums should end if the justification for the public funding is the unsubstantiated, disproven or misleading claims by sports franchises and their hired-gun consulting firms that stadiums and the franchises they host are significant sources of economic development, income growth, job creation and new tax revenues. In other words, end the misguided use of public financing of stadiums and arenas as a magic bullet of urban renewal and community revitalization.”
Coates cited research indicating that building a stadium does not increase a metro area’s average income and it can result in a redistribution of economic activity across a city, rather than an overall increase. He also noted, “government is tightening its belt all across the country, closing down fire stations, laying off or furloughing police, teachers, and university faculty. Infrastructure, like roads and bridges, is not being maintained as well as it should. In this context, it is hard to imagine that the very best use of public funds is in subsidizing stadiums for professional sports franchises.” The conversation will continue throughout the week.