More Inside-the-Beltway Baseball

Jacob Sullum has a good column up at Reason on the DC baseball stadium financing shenanigans. He cites this open letter, which I hadn't seen, to Mayor Williams from 90 economists on the likely economic impact of a taxpayer -financed stadium.

A vast body of economic research on the impact of baseball stadiums suggests that the proposed $440 million baseball stadium in the District of Columbia will not generate notable economic or fiscal benefits for the city. Most studies find that new sports stadiums do not increase employment or incomes and sometimes have a modest negative effect on local economies. The reason appears to be that sports stadiums do not increase overall entertainment spending but merely shift it from other entertainment venues to the stadium.

Research also suggests that a baseball stadium alone will not revitalize the Anacostia waterfront. Because sports stadiums are not used most of the year, they do not stimulate much development outside the stadium. Most modern stadiums include restaurant and other entertainment offerings, limiting the money that goes to neighboring businesses.

A new stadium cannot be expected to generate a net increase in economic activity in the Washington metropolitan area, but it may shift some entertainment spending from the Maryland and Virginia suburbs into the District. Nevertheless, the economic benefits to the District are not likely to outweigh the large stadium subsidy proposed by the District. At least 80 percent of the costs of the $440 million stadium are expected to be supported with public funds.

In short, it is dubious to justify the use of public funds to subsidize construction of a DC baseball stadium on economic development grounds.

And there is a very impressive list of signatures.
If you're a resident of DC's Ward One, as I am, please send a note to Jim Graham asking him to vote against the stadium financing plan. I'm told he's on the fence, and could swing things either way.

Author: Will Wilkinson

Vice President for Research at the Niskanen Center

2 thoughts

  1. The facts of our contingent evolution have also resulted in our being composed of cells. Being composed of cells is at least as necessary to our existence as is our being social creatures and perhaps even more so.
    Down with collectivism, up with cellism.
    Read your Nicomachean Ethics Mr. Brooks. Aristotle had that one right. What makes us us is our ability to be cognizant, the fact that as individuals we are cognitive loci. Ultimately, that is why rights accrue to individuals and not collectives. Collectives cannot legitimately possess rights or exercise powers not delegated by individuals to the collective.
    Further, individuals cannot delegate rights they do not possess.

  2. This reminds me of Hayek’s “Individualism and the Economic Order”. Quite often, people who consider themselves both allies and enemies of ‘individualism’ are quite unclear what they mean by it – Rousseau considered himself an individualist, after all.
    This is the first thing I’ve read by you. Interesting, though I’m not sure I agree with everything.

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