Each and every year, all of the major sports leagues in the US – the NFL, the MLB, the NBA, and the NHL (amongst others) – bring in hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue, and they’re only growing bigger and bigger as time goes on.
Each of these major sports have at least 20 teams, with each of them requiring their own stadium. These stadiums almost always seat between 50,000 and 70,000 people or more, and some of the bigger metro areas in the US have multiple stadiums within walking distance of one another.
But that’s not necessarily the problem.
I think you’d find that the overwhelming majority of Americans out there today have absolutely no problem with getting the chance to go and watch their favorite athletes play in a city nearby – it’s that they usually almost always have to end up footing the bill to build newer and bigger stadiums while these multi-billionaire owners never have to take accountability for the teams that they own.
Major sports are big business in the US
For example, just look to what’s happening in Wisconsin right now.
The Milwaukee Bucks (of the NBA) are looking to build a brand-new stadium. The governor, Scott Walker, has already signed a bill into law to commit the state government to spend more than $250 million on a new basketball arena – more than half of the projected $400 million that the overall construction is anticipated to take.
The people behind the new stadium bill argued that it was going to bring a tremendous amount of business into the area to help support a downtown region that wasn’t exactly doing as well as it used to in the past.
At the same time, this plan hasn’t gone exactly unopposed.
A coalition of religious and community groups have banded together to fight the new arena proposal, and even went so far as calling for a referendum on the bond issue that was going to be used to finance the project in the first place.
They met a tremendous amount of resistance, and so far it looks like the new stadium is being fast tracked to completion.
The truth behind the cost of sports stadiums being built in America
The reality behind the construction of these new stadiums is that people are going to do whatever they have to in order to keep their team in their local area, even if it means using money from the future that probably isn’t going to exist to finance hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of construction – knowing that there are probably going to be on the hook to do the exact same thing again in another 20 years or so.
Even in the face of investors and economists telling these local governments and state governments that these kinds of deals are almost always a terrible idea, governments continue to move forward with the plan because they know the money is “invisible”.
The stadiums are usually financed through local municipal bonds that are borrowed today against public tax money created tomorrow, understanding that most of these taxes will never come to bear because of future policies that nullify them completely.
It’s an interesting proposal, and it’s one that really doesn’t make sense when you start to dig deeper into where the money is really coming from.
Here’s why so many mayors love to have new stadiums brought in or built
There are a bunch of different reasons as to why so many mayors of big cities and Governors of sports crazed states keep pushing for these kinds of deals – and it has everything to do with keeping the public happy.
Just look at what happened in Seattle not that long ago.
The Supersonics were looking to get public money to help them build a new stadium or were threatening to move the team from Seattle to Oklahoma City. The public balked at spending that kind of money, the local government refused to grant the bonds, and the city had to sit by and watch as their beloved basketball team left for greener pastures.
All of this happened while the team became a perennial championship contender, and now the people of Seattle are doing everything they can to try and get a team back.
Oh, and those politicians that decided not to go with public money for the new stadium?
They’ve been gone for a long time now, while the Oklahoma City Thunder keep winning games.