Facilitating sport: Uneven partnerships
A new book by a Harvard University professor not only confirms that taxpayers lose when they subsidize construction of facilities for pro sports teams — it shows those deals are even worse for taxpayers than they thought.
In “Public/Private Partnerships for Major League Sports Facilities,” urban planning associate professor Judith Grant Long analyzes such deals for 121 sports facilities in use during 2010 — adding up the costs of land, infrastructure, lost property-tax revenue and operations, then subtracting revenue and rent that the facilities generate. She finds those costs hike taxpayers' bills an average of 25 percent, Bloomberg News reports.
That raises taxpayers' average cost per facility from the $170 million commonly cited by teams and media to $259 million — about $10 billion more overall. And on average, taxpayers bear 78 percent of construction costs, teams just 22 percent.
Contrary to popular perception, these partnerships “are in fact highly uneven,” Ms. Long writes. (Think of the current Pittsburgh Steelers' plan to expand Heinz Field.) She also notes that cities negotiate on the public's behalf at a disadvantage because pro sports leagues monopolize the supply of franchises and keep their finances less than transparent.
Pittsburghers know Long's conclusion — that “public partners should avoid paying building costs” — all too well from bitter experience. Hopefully, her demonstration of just how bad these lucrative giveaways to millionaire players and billionaire team owners are for taxpayers will help end them.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Man barricaded in house near West Hempfield Elementary School
- Pirates cut 12, including outfielder Tabata and pitcher Lincoln
- Penguins’ protracted slump continues with 5-2 loss at Carolina
- Bodies of Kochu, Gray found in Ohio River in West Virginia
- Hays eagle egg breaks; unclear if chick was born
- Narduzzi set to begin more critical evaluations during Pitt football spring drills
- Munhall’s Strom helps Cal (Pa.) rise to the top
- Pittsburgh angles to keep Heinz headquarters in merger
- About face: Pirates’ Burnett now digging the shifts
- Sewickley mortgage broker pleads guilty in bank fraud conspiracy
- Sestak’s use of rank violates military’s code of ethics