4. “Over the last 22 years, during which 125 of the 140 teams in the five largest U.S. professional sports leagues have built or refurbished home stadiums – most using public subsidies – evidence shows the facilities rarely, if ever, live up to their ‘measurable economic boost’ billing,” Danny Ecker writes for Crain’s.
That’s what the data shows. Study after study after study. But what’s a few hundred million dollars of taxpayer money between friends?
“The Wrigley Field rehab is a case that Chicago-based SportsCorp Ltd. President Marc Ganis calls ‘unlike any other situation in the nation’ because of Wrigley’s status as a privately held asset that has a measurable effect on tourism . . .
“‘No other facility is as important an economic engine,’ Mr. Ganis says of the 98-year-old stadium’s role in the North Side neighborhood. According to the Cubs, about 30 percent of ticket sales come from outside Chicago.”
Doesn’t that really cut against public subsidies? The privately held asset is doing good for all of us just the way things are – and the Ricketts are already investing a sliver of their fortune to wring even more revenue out of the ballpark and the neighborhood. Aren’t they the last people who need a public subsidy?
It’s one of the dumbest things about our current reward-the-wealthy culture (and there are plenty of examples of dumbitude to choose from): We have this thing that makes money, so we need to give it public funding, so that it will make money. WTF. Covering the suburbs 10 years ago, nearly every meeting was about how much of a tax break to give a Jewel or a CVS to set its fat ass down on a corner, when, erm, the guy selling baseball cards out of a storefront last renovated in the Eisenhower administration might need those bucks, too.
Anybody currently gearing up the “but Jewel will bring in much more money than that guy” argument, EXACTLY. So what are we giving them a break for?
If we are going to just arbitrarily give money to whatever certain people want, then I am starting a petition for a bagel shop because Dunkin Donuts bagels taste like ballsacks and the only other breakfast place nearby doubles as a drug deal waiting room (not inefficient, mind, but ill suited to my present needs). Or a good used bookstore/vintage shop/ferret hangout. I guess all I need to get that retail multiplex off the ground is a squillion dollars of my own and thus no need for the subsidies the city will rain down upon me.