The Real Impact of Sports Stadiums: Zero or Worse

Courtesy www.homeofthebraves.com
Courtesy www.homeofthebraves.com
ictor Matheson, an economics professor at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., has studied the impacts of mega-events such as the World Cup and Olympics and found them lacking, economically speaking.  
Matheson: What’s happened over the last 25 years is that economists not associated with the leagues or local chambers of commerce   — and I’m one of these — will look at any economic variable we can get our hands on. We try to look at things like GDP, personal income, taxable sales, employment or unemployment, hotel occupancy. We try to see if the presence of mega-events, and whether the presence of new stadiums, of new franchises, actually causes a discernible bump in the amount of economic activity. By and large, these studies find that the economic impact associated with sporting events is either zero or very small, or not discernibly different   from zero.

"As a rule of thumb, an economist like me would say this: Take whatever (economic impact figures) the supporters are telling you, move the decimal point one place to the left, and that’s a pretty good estimate. The economic impact is a fraction of what’s claimed, and if the economic impact is a fraction of what is claimed, then the amount of public subsidy that’s justified putting into facilities like this is probably a fraction of what’s being asked for."  


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