Think modern mythology…
Somewhere along the line professional sports teams figured out how to con cities, politicians and the general public into doling out millions in tax dollar incentives because they thought it was a good investment.
Starting with taxpayer subsidized stadiums.
That despite countless studies indicating the opposite to be the case.
“According to leading sports economists, stadiums and arenas rarely bring about the promised prosperity, and instead leave cities and states mired in debt that they can’t pay back before the franchise comes calling for more,” according to a 2012 report by a pair of economics analysts in The Atlantic.
Futhermore, “Prospects for cutting sports subsidies are not good,” a 1997 Brookings Institute study concluded, adding, “Given the profound penetration and popularity of sports in American culture, it is hard to see an end to rising public subsidies of sports facilities.”
Even a Federal Reserve Bank of St, Louis report in 2001 began lead off with the following quote from former Chicago White Sox owner Bill Veek:
“We play the Star-Spangled Banner before every game—you want us to pay taxes, too?”
Are stadiums good investments for cities, the study queried?
“The short answer to this question is ‘No,’ ” it continued. “When studying this issue, almost all economists and development specialists -at least those who work independently and not for a chamber of commerce or similar organization- conclude that…cities and metro areas that have invested heavily in sports stadiums and arenas have, on average, experienced slower income growth than those that have not.”
Ditto for those much ballyhooed playoff games like tonight’s contest between the Kansas City Royals and California Angels, says restaurant and comedy club owner Craig Glazer.”
“Look, it was a big deal here Tuesday night because it was the first playoff game won by either the Royals or Chiefs in Kansas City in 20 years,” Glazer says.
“The perception is, ‘Omigod, omigod, omigod, we’re going to make a bunch of money,” Glazer says. “This is great for the economy of Kansas City. But the truth of the matter is the opposite for most businesses, restaurants, movie theaters, etc. Because every evening event on a night like tonight will be pretty much destroyed unless you’re a neighborhood sports bar. People aren’t going to go out to eat dinner or go shopping because there going to stay home and watch the game.
“Nighttime in Kansas City is wiped out. I went to a Quik Trip to get something Tuesday around 7:45 p.m. and I was the only customer there. And the kid behind the counter was kinda stunned to see me, he said, ‘You’re the first person I’ve seen tonight. We have more people coming in here during blizzards.’ ”
Playoff games with local sports teams like the Royals, Chiefs or KU basketball are economy killers, Glazer says.
“The streets are empty, even the shopping malls and stores that are open tonight will be completely empty. Anything that’s open besides sports bars will be dead – business will be off 50 to 100 percent. It’s going to be a ghost town tonight.”
Not to be a killjoy but, “If you think the Royals playing in the playoffs is a financial benefit, it’s not,” Glazer says. “When you couple the Monday night Chiefs win at Arrowhead – where they went from looking like they were dead to winning their biggest regular season game in years – with the Royals winning one of the greatest comeback playoff games of all time, that’s great media for Kansas City.
“But how do you add that up in dollars and cents? Who benefits? The Glass family, that’s who. And I didn’t even see David Glass on TV during the game or afterwards. When Ewing Kauffman owned the Royals they had him on all the time. Maybe I missed it, but I didn’t see Glass. He was insignificant, yet he benefitted the most from the Royals winning that game. But who else is going to benefit? Are people going to fly to Kansas City because of that game?”
Fact is, the Royals playing in the playoffs hurts Kansas City, Glazer says.
“In the big picture Kansas City’s economy takes a huge hit because of these playoff games,” Glazer says. “I couldn’t even guess at the amount, but these games cost Kansas City businesses millions and millions of dollars.
“When KU plays basketball during March Madness our business at Stanford’s is cut in half and the entire Legends is a ghost town. And this is going to be even worse, because not everybody is a KU fan, but everybody’s a Royals fan.”