Donald Sensing, citing a Cato Institute study, adds yet more evidence that government subsidies for sports stadia are economic boondoggles. He cites the case of Nashville.

But here’s, as Ross Perot would say, the beauty part: Houston wouldn’t provide Bud Adams a new stadium, so he up and moved to Nashville, which would. Since then, Houston has built a new stadium to attract an expansion franchise, the Texans. Likewise, Art Modell is considered to be just a shade better than Adolf Hitler for moving the former Browns to Baltimore as the Ravens because Cleveland wouldn’t buy him a new stadium. They promptly turned around and bought a new stadium for the Browns version 2.0. And Baltimore? They lost the Colts to Indianapolis–which may ba about to lose them again–only to spend money to lure someone else’s team a few years later. Ditto, St. Louis, which once had the Cardinals (now Arizona formerly Phoenix formerly St. Louis formerly Chicago), who paid to lure the Rams from L.A.

Do all these cities really think it’s economically smart to do this? I can’t imagine so. But, apparently, there is some mystic value to having an NFL team that clouds the judgment. Ironically, one exception may be L.A. which lost both the Rams and Raiders in one offseason and appears not to be looking back. The NFL is desperate to move a struggling franchise there, but L.A. isn’t going to pony up the money for it.

Cross-post to SportsBlog

FILED UNDER: Sports, , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. M. Murcek says:

    They built TWO new stadiums in Pittsburgh and another in Philadelphia, AFTER the voters said NO THANKS. The Pirates are $30 million in the hole in the new park that was supposed to make them a profitable small market team. Everyone says the seating at the Steelers’ new stadium is horrible (couldn’t tell ya, I won’t set foot in either of these monuments to voter-be-damned government) We can only hope that when the Pirates finally leave town, the people responsible for this travesty get tarred and feathered on the field during the 7th inning stretch of a little league game.

    Um, oh yeah, Pittsburgh and the commonwealth of Pennsylvania are in hock big time now. Big league ball sure brought the money rolling in, didn’t it?

  2. hln says:

    There’s been serious screaming from both sides in St. Louis about building the baseball Cardinals a new stadium. Here’s the latest.


  3. We Californians get a lot of flak for our “eclectic” political system, but when it comes to stadium subsidies, Angelenos are quite sophisticated.

  4. If someone is going to build something here that will screw our traffic up even more, they should pay us to do it. Not the other way around.

  5. Yeah, I never really understood why the public should finance stadiums for millionaire team owners to watch their millionaire felons – I mean athletes – play children’s games. Then to attend one of these games would cost the average family of four well over $150 in tickets, parking, meal and drinks.

    I have nothing against these owners or athletes if there is a market to support them, but I see no reason why they should be subsidized by the public.