Anyone who lives in a large metropolitan area like myself, probably has at least one professional sports team located in their city and in many cases, more than one. And chances are at one time or another, one of those teams have probably discussed the need for a new place to play, since their current facility is not up to par. Here in Minnesota, we are currently discussing ways to build a new football stadium for the Vikings.
As you can imagine, there is and always has been much opposition to using any type of public funding to build a new stadium. In fact, this debate has been going on for years around here. It started in 1994 when the owners of the local NBA team threatened to move the team because of financial problems with the arena that the team plays in. The city of Minneapolis stepped in to help pay for the arena. Our major league baseball team, the Twins have been battling to get a new stadium for about 10 years before one was finally approved. And now the Vikings are at the trough for taxpayers money.
Personally, I have mixed feelings about using taxes from ordinary people to finance stadiums. I understand both sides of the argument. The owners of these teams are extremely rich and in most cases, billionaires. You would think that they could build their own stadium using their own money. A new stadium increases the value of a franchise and thus makes the owner even better off when they sell the team. So this is essentially welfare for the rich and I do not really agree with that. However, people need to understand that the owner is not the only one who benefits from having a brand new stadium. The city and the state get additional tax revenue from having a team and stadium or arena. Unfortunately, an owner can just hold a town hostage and say that they will move the team if their demands are not met. Other cities are willing to build new stadiums or arenas for pro sports franchises. It is a highly competitive business for getting franchises. There is no such thing as owner loyalty anymore.
I have to laugh at those so-called economic experts who say that pro sports teams bring no economic value to a city or state. The argument they use is the money people spend on attending a game would be spent someone else on another form of entertainment. So according to their theories, the money just gets transferred around. I find a few flaws with that argument. About 40 percent of the people who attend a Twins game come from out-of-state. So if they did not attend a game here in Minnesota, would they still travel to Minnesota and spend money? probably not. And the same holds true with people who live in this state or better yet, those who live in this metro area. Take for instance myself. There is no guarantee I would use the money that I would normally spend on sporting events on something else in this city or state. I might even spend it in another state. Or save the money and not spend it. There are so many positive things that a pro sports team can bring to a city. Besides the tax revenue, there is the quality of life issue. I personally believe that having many sports teams around here can help bring in many other businesses and is a good recruiting tool to help people move here.
There should be many ways to help solve these stadium issues. I believe the people who benefit the most from having a team in town should be taxed the most such as hotels, restaurants, bars and sports memorabilia. But in the end, everyone in the state benefits from having a team in the state or city, even if you are not a sports fan. Sure building a new stadium may require using public money, but it is a good investment that usually pays off in the long term.