Those cynical about politicians’ inability to cut spending amid the government shutdown only need to look at the A’s and Raiders wins Sunday in the Oakland Coliseum. It used to be taxpayers might be asked to subsidize one stadium to have a football AND baseball team as well as an arena to host an NBA and NHL team, but now in all but 11 cases (see list below), taxpayers are told they have to foot the bill for a separate venue for each team.
The Atlantic reports in October’s edition that taxpayers paid out $33 million toward separate facilities for the Bengals and Reds this year, while only getting $1 million back in Bengals’ gifts to community groups in the area. The article was particularly harsh on the Vikings potential departure from Minnesota unless they received massive taxpayer funding for a new stadium (see drawing above).
From the other perspective, one executive who has argued for public subsidies for a new arena in a medium-sized market told Breitbart Sports that losing a major team would make it very difficult for many companies in his city to attract top-level talent to grow businesses and create jobs.
He makes the argument that bringing tens of thousands of fans into a city for 81 major league baseball games or a shared arena that brings fans in for 82 total games (41 NHL and 41 NBA) also brings millions of dollars and related jobs. The argument seems harder to make in the case of a football only NFL Stadium (for which he has not argued) that brings crowds in for just eight games a year.
However, it is the NFL, which gets huge subsidies in return for just eight home games a season that is the focus of The Atlantic article. The article states that 12 NFL teams actually have been paid more in subsidies than their stadiums actually cost to build. It references a Harvard University professor of urban planning who calculated that 70 percent of the capital cost of NFL stadiums has been provided by taxpayers.
While the Atlantic rips Roger Goodell’s $30-million salary, it should be noted that Goodell has proposed saving taxpayer money by having the Oakland Raiders share a new stadium in Santa Clara for the San Francisco 49ers rather than built a new stadium that would cost the NFL $200 million, Raiders $300 million and taxpayers a half billion give or take a couple of hundred million. Either way, it looks like there will no longer be any NFL teams sharing stadiums with MLB teams within a few years.
The following are the 11 venues that potentially save taxpayers millions by serving more than one team to eliminate the need for an additional arena, or in Oakland’s case stadium:
- Atlanta – Philips Arena, Hawks (NBA) and Thrashers (NHL)
- Boston – TD Banknorth Garden, Celtics (NBA) and Bruins (NHL)
- Chicago – United Center, Bulls (NBA) and Blackhawks (NHL)
- Dallas – American Airlines Center, Mavericks (NBA) and Stars (NHL)
- Denver – Pepsi Center, Nuggets (NBA) and Colorado Avalanche (NHL)
- Los Angeles – Staples Center, LA Lakers (NBA), Clippers (NBA) and Kings (NHL)
- New York – Madison Square Garden, Knicks (NBA) and Rangers (NHL)
- Oakland – Oakland Coliseum, Athletics (MLB) and Raiders (NFL)
- Philadelphia – Wachovia Center, 76ers (NBA) and Flyers (NHL)
- Toronto – Air Canada Center, Raptors (NBA) and Maple Leafs (NHL)
- Washington – Verizon Center, Wizards (NBA) and Capitals (NHL)