Welfare for Sports Arenas a Losing Proposition

The Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City recently approved using $22.7 million in taxpayer funds to renovate the Utah Jazz’s Vivint Arena.

While government officials often believe such investments will be a boon for  local economic growth, Jesse Hathaway of the Heartland Institute argues in Deseret News that “this kind of corporate welfare is really a losing proposition for the very people elected officials claim to be helping: the taxpayers.”

Hathaway cites research from two economics professors at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, Dennis Coates and Brad Humphreys, who found that “the presence of pro sports teams in the 37 metropolitan areas in our sample had no measurable positive impact on the overall growth rate of real per-capita income in those areas.”

Instead, their research indicated that “the average effect on employment in the services sector of a city’s economy was a net loss of 1,924 jobs as a result of the presence of a professional sports team.”

While government officials who dole out corporate welfare may often believe their taxpayer-funded gifts serve the public, unfortunately, the evidence suggests otherwise.

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