OpEd on Stadium – NO!

This is the personal opinion of one board member.

Dear city government –

I understand you are debating whether to finance a stadium facility for the Ems, although I wasn’t able to see any documentation about this transaction on the COE website. Some argue that supporting sports franchises helps the community and are culturally valuable institutions. However, this franchise would siphon local money out of our community into the pockets of the Elmore Sports Group, Ltd.which has no real stake in our resilience and sustainability.

When I worked on my PhD in Urban Studies, I came across  academic research that shows no benefit to city economic development. For example:

Across the nation, franchises have argued that building a new stadium will lead to economic development in the form of increased incomes, jobs and tax revenues. However, the preponderance of academic research has disputed these claims. This article looks at the benefits and costs of building a stadium and discusses why the economic development argument has failed to stand up to academic scrutiny. Stadium seeking franchises are now shying away from making economic development claims in light of the strong research findings. Franchises are able to make quality of life arguments and, given the monopoly power of the major sports leagues, cities are responding by competing for a limited number of franchises by offering to fund stadiums.”  (https://gardner.utah.edu/_documents/publications/finance-tax/pp-funding-sports-stadiums.pdf).

Given the current budget woes of the city and county, there is no justification for turning over resources to a private, profit-making corporation.  What is the ROI? Would the city see tax revenues for the owner’s profits? How long would it take to refill the coffers? Can you make an economic argument to your constituents?

I think a comparable investment in a cooperative enterprise incubator would be far more generative economically, socially and culturally.

Sincerely, Clare Strawn, PhD