WHAT DOES A CITY GET IN RETURN FOR SEVERAL HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS IN TAX BREAKS? A half-empty stadium. Eight home games a year. Maybe a few concerts. A national convention if they’re lucky. Construction costs that run to more than a billion dollars. And a lot of empty promises. And while a few bold mayors and local grassroots organizations have tried to halt this wave of government welfare for billionaires, they’ve garnered the same amount of attention as Miami’s new half-empty stadium paid for by public funding.
That is, not much. “If you are a city that plans to throw $100 million on a stadium to make a team owner happy, realize that you are only doing it to make a team owner happy,” says Neil deMause. He’s a well-known New York City journalist who has covered public financing for sports stadiums for over two decades and co-authored the 1999 book, Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit . “The more I have researched the subject, I continue to find that for the vast majority of stadium projects there is no benefit for the public.”
68 | October 2017
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