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Issue of the Week
 
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Sports and Public Finance - Thanksgiving Edition

By Jessica Green

THE LOWDOWN:

Though the Mayor's proposal to build a publicly-financed stadium for the Yankees on the West Side of Manhattan was roundly criticized and ultimately rejected, the issue of public finance in sports is still at the fore. A 16 November article in the New York Times covers a brewing controversy in Connecticut. In an effort to buck up its economy, Hartford has plans to build a stadium (which will cost between $10 and $15 million) and buy a Massachusetts baseball team. New Britain, which has a shiny new stadium, falling attendance at its minor-league baseball games, and Hartford as a neighbor, does not welcome the plan. The example may be in microcosm, but the same phenomenon applies across the nation. There are too few teams and too many cities willing to pay for them. The result? Bidding wars. Cities are competing against each other to proffer the sweetest deal † at a cost to the city and its taxpayers. Too bad the taxpayers seem to like it!

NYC SPORTS:

John Crotty - One of the co-founders of Buythejets.com on why the NFL should allow public ownership.

NYC Sports Commission - Didn't know we had one, huh? Their mission: "to attract athletic events into the Big Apple for the purpose of enhancing the City's economy°"

"Come See the Staten Island Yankees" - Radio address from Mayor Giuliani invites New Yorkers to see the new minor league team and touts their soon-to-built stadium in St. Georges. He also alludes to a stadium in Coney Island for the Mets.

Double Play: The Economics and Financing for Stadiums for the Yankees and Mets - A study issued by the Independent Budget Office. Aside from the certainty that any new stadium would lose money, the IBO was concerned with issues of equity and fairness: New York City residents would foot the bill for a stadium also used by suburban baseball fans, who on average, are wealthier than their City counterparts.

Yankee Stadium - NYC's big stadium controversy is detailed in City Law Journal. The Mayor wanted a new publicly-funded stadium built in Manhattan; the City Council objected. As Citizens Union Foundation noted in its Summer 1998 Searchlight on the City Council, "Intro 335 which would amend the Charter to prohibit the expenditure of any public funds on an new Manhattan stadium for the Yankees. Brooklyn maybe - but Manhattan, never."

Citizens Budget Committee letter to Mayor Giuliani Their letter to the Mayor does not put forth a specific plan for a municipal subsidy to a stadium, but does suggest guidelines for any decisions about NYC investment in sports stadiums.

TEAM OWNERSHIP:

Excerpts from the NFL Constitution - Outlines league rules on team ownership; charitable and not-for-profit organizations have been prohibited from owning NFL teams since 1960.

USFans.com - Applauds Rep. Earl Blumenauer's (D-OR) proposed "Give Fans A Chance Bill" (H.R. 590) to eliminate the ban on new public ownership of sports teams. Also see Blumenauer's remarks. The bill never made it to the floor.

"A Team is a Sound Investment" - Looks at the monopoly on U.S. sports teams and how it has affected teams' prices and fans' attendance.

STADIUMS:

NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue before House Judiciary Committee: "A review of the NFL's operations over the past 40 years demonstrates the League's firm commitment to competitive and geographic balance in the location of its franchises, to franchise stability and to the protection of fan and community interests."

"Are New Stadiums Worth the Cost? - Economics Professors Roger Noll and Andrew Zimbalist, both known for their work on the economic impact of sports teams and stadiums, argue that 1) stadiums invariably lose money; and 2) do not create jobs or stimulate the local economy.

"Sports Stadiums Can Be Privately Financed" - Prof. David Swindell offers a free-market solution to the problem of costly stadiums paid for by residents: private financing. He posits that a stadium that cannot be built with minimal public financing indicates an unwise investment.

NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue - Commissioner Tagliabue testifies before the House Judiciary Committee in response to the Fan Freedom and Community Protection Act of 1996, requiring any professional sports team planning to relocate to provide notice to the local government and the owner of the stadium.


Gotham Gazette is published by Citizens Union Foundation and is made possible by support from the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Altman Foundation, the Fund for the City of New York and donors to Citizens Union Foundation. Please consider supporting Citizens Union Foundation’s public education programs.  Critical early support to Gotham Gazette was provided by the Charles H. Revson Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.