80 years ago, stadium subsidies were essentially unheard of, with funding for professional sports stadiums coming from private sources. Over time this situation changed, and today most new or renovated professional sports stadiums are financed at least partly through stadium subsidies. This change has been caused by the increase in bargaining power of professional sports teams at the expense of their host cities. As the years have passed, municipalities have come to love their local professional sports teams. Citizens feel a special bond with their teams and share in a sense of civic pride when they are successful.

The Los Angeles Coliseum became the first fully publicly funded stadium in 1923, but such stadiums did not become the norm until the 1950s. Twenty-seven of the 30 stadiums built between 1953 and 1970 received more than $450 million in total public funding for construction. During this period, publicly funding a stadium grew in popularity as an effective incentive to attract professional sports teams to up and coming cities. Famous examples include the Brooklyn Dodgers leaving New York in exchange for 300 acres in Chavez Ravine and the New York Giants moving to San Francisco for what would eventually become Candlestick Park.

Sports teams have realized their ability to relocate at lower and lower costs. Because local governments feel that keeping their sports teams around is critical to the success of their cities, they comply and grant the stadium subsidies. This process is what has led to the large number of stadiums financed through subsidies that we have today.
Wikipedia – Stadium Subsidy


Cities and counties  could pass a basic benefits package for local stadium employees such as but not limited to:

  • A $15 minimum wage for  part time and full time stadium employees

Slate – How to Stop the Stadium Wars

The Atlantic – If You Build It, They Might Not Come: The Risky Economics of Sports Stadiums

The Atlantic – Is There a Better Way to Build a Stadium?

Bloomberg – In Stadium Building Spree, U.S. Taxpayers Lose $4 Billion

Truth Out – Detroit Red Wings Get New $400 Million Taxpayer-Financed Stadium While the City Goes Bankrupt

Wall Street Journal – A Stadium’s Costly Legacy Throws Taxpayers for a Loss

Think Progress – With Obama Budget, Your Federal Tax Dollars Won’t Pay For Sports Stadiums

The Disguise of Municipal Bonds: How a Safe Bet in Investing Can Become an Unexpected Uncertainty During Municipal Bankruptcy

Wall Street Journal – Use of Taxpayer Money for Pro-Sports Arenas Draws Fresh Scrutiny

Texas Monthly – Texas Business Report: How Taxpayers Subsidized Construction of Cowboys Stadium

Texas Monthly – Houston Is Ready To Host Super Bowl 51, But Is It Worth It?

NPR – The NFL: Big Business With Big Tax Breaks

FORBES – Are Municipal Bonds Currently A Good Investment?

Business Journal – Huge Houston muni bond sale comes at ‘precarious time’ in market, expert says

Tax-Exempt Bonds and the Economics of Professional Sports Stadiums

Bloomberg – In Stadium Building Spree, U.S. Taxpayers Lose $4 Billion

US PIRG – The Facts About Toll Road Privatization and How to Protect the Public

Washington Post – College football isn’t about college, and it’s barely about football. It’s about money.

City Lab – What D.C. Should Demand of a New NFL Stadium

City Lab – What Atlanta Might Gain From a Stadium It Doesn’t Need

City Lab – Remembering the Omni, the Arena That Helped Revitalize Downtown Atlanta

Think Progress – Taxpayer-Backed Arena Deal Gets New Scrutiny Amid Radical Housing Shortage

Texas Municipal League – Federal Proposals Take Aim at Tax-Exempt Municipal Bonds

National Bureau of Economic Research – Tax Reform and the Market For Tax-Exempt Debt

New York Times – Have I Got a Muni For You

New York Times – Picking Up the Tab For Fields of Dreams;Taxpayers Build Stadiums; Owners Cash in

Forbes – NFL’s Richard Sherman Talks Football, Taxes & Why Billionaire Owners Should Pay For Stadiums

Next City – L.A. Asks HUD to Back Private Sports Complex

Denver Post – Study shows Broncos’ Mile High stadium cost federal taxpayers $54 million

Brookings – Why the federal government should stop spending billions on private sports stadiums

Next City – St. Louis Voters Choose Transit Over New Stadium

Next City – Critics: Cleveland Should Put Neighborhood Investment Before Arena Upgrade

Roosevelt Institute – Protecting Detroit’s Taxpayers: Stadium Finance Reform Through An Excise Tax

The Nation – Cincinnati’s Soccer Stadium Scam

Soccer stadium would pay no property taxes under proposed terms

Nashville MLS ownership reaches terms on community benefits agreement for stadium project

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