Menus Subscribe Search

Follow us


PS PAGE LAYOUT NEW4.2

INFOGRAPHIC: A Whole New Ballpark

• November 22, 2012 • 2:00 PM

How Los Angeles can beat the odds and make money off its stadium.

SAN FRANCISCO: After voters rejected four public referendums to fund a new Giants stadium, owners built it entirely from private funding. It was the first purely private stadium in 40 years.

PITTSBURGH: The Penguins’ Consol Energy Center was built with almost no public money, instead using cash from private companies and contributions from casino owners under a deal allowing new gambling operations.

INDIANAPOLIS: Public financing accounted for 50 percent of the new Lucas Oil Stadium, offset by taxes on hotels, rental cars, restaurants, and sales of Colts license plates.

CINCINNATI: Debt from subsidies for Paul Brown Stadium ate up 16 percent of Hamilton County’s budget last year alone. It even forced the sale of a hospital at half its value.

CHARLOTTE: After a $260 million stadium-funding referendum failed and the National Basketball Association’s Hornets fled town, Charlotte ended up footing the entire bill for a new arena and got a new franchise, the Bobcats, in 2004.

Art Modell, former owner of two National Football League franchises, once said that for an area to have a professional football team “is far more important than 30 libraries,” an explanation of why cities will spend millions to attract teams.

Miami, Minneapolis, and Brooklyn all recently opened new stadiums. Las Vegas, San Jose, and Santa Clara, California, are among cities considering construction. As Los Angeles weighs proposals for a stadium to attract an NFL franchise, the traditional arguments reappear: supporters say a leading plan from entertainment giant AEG to build Farmers Field downtown and refurbish the convention center could generate $1.7 billion in taxes and business for the local economy.

But academics say that economic jolt is usually just a whimper. A 2004 report by economists Brad Humphreys and Dennis Coates even found that thanks to new taxes, redirected public funds, and citizens divering their existing entertainment spending to sports tickets, cities with new stadiums saw a reduction in per capita income and an average loss of nearly 2,000 jobs. Add in subsidies sucking up public money, and a new statiudm can seem like a worse deal than $10 beer.

Yet “hope springs eternal,” said Standford economist Roger Noll. Some cities—including San Diego and Baltimore—have had success with their stadium projects. Here’s a playbook to help a Los Angeles stadium buck the trend.

Public Financing

Who’s been able to build their own stadiums, and who had to lean on public support to do so? Below, the cooler the color, the less public support. The warmer the color, the more public support.

Ballpark graphic: Column Five

Jason Plautz

A weekly roundup of the best of Pacific Standard and PSmag.com, delivered straight to your inbox.

Recent Posts

October 21 • 4:00 PM

Why the Number of Reported Sexual Offenses Is Skyrocketing at Occidental College

When you make it easier to report assault, people will come forward.


October 21 • 2:00 PM

Private Donors Are Supplying Spy Gear to Cops Across the Country Without Any Oversight

There’s little public scrutiny when private donors pay to give police controversial technology and weapons. Sometimes, companies are donors to the same foundations that purchase their products for police.


October 21 • 12:00 PM

How Clever Do You Think Your Dog Is?

Maybe as smart as a four-year-old child?


October 21 • 10:00 AM

Converting the Climate Change Non-Believers

When hard science isn’t enough, what can be done?



October 21 • 8:00 AM

Education Policy Is Stuck in the Manufacturing Age

Refining our policies and teaching social and emotional skills will help us to generate sustained prosperity.


October 21 • 7:13 AM

That Cigarette Would Make a Great Water Filter

Clean out the ashtray, add some aluminum oxide, and you’ve (almost) got yourself a low-cost way to remove arsenic from drinking water.


October 21 • 6:00 AM

Fruits and Vegetables Are About to Enter a Flavor Renaissance

Chefs are teaming up with plant breeders to revitalize bland produce with robust flavors and exotic beauty—qualities long neglected by industrial agriculture.


October 21 • 4:00 AM

She’s Cheating on Him, You Can Tell Just by Watching Them

New research suggests telltale signs of infidelity emerge even in a three- to five-minute video.


October 21 • 2:00 AM

Cheating Demographic Doom: Pittsburgh Exceptionalism and Japan’s Surprising Economic Resilience

Don’t judge a metro or a nation-state by its population numbers.


October 20 • 4:00 PM

The Bird Hat Craze That Sparked a Preservation Movement

How a fashion statement at the turn of the 19th century led to the creation of the first Audubon societies.


October 20 • 2:00 PM

The Risk of Getting Killed by the Police If You Are White, and If You Are Black

An analysis of killings by police shows outsize risk for young black males.


October 20 • 12:00 PM

Love and Hate in Israel and Palestine

Psychologists find that parties to a conflict think they’re motivated by love while their enemies are motivated by hate.


October 20 • 11:00 AM

My Dog Comes First: The Importance of Pets to Homeless Youth

Dogs and cats have both advantages and disadvantages for street-involved youth.


October 20 • 10:00 AM

Homophobia Is Not a Thing of the Past

Despite growing support for LGBT rights and recent decisions from the Supreme Court regarding the legality of same-sex marriage, the battle for acceptance has not yet been decided.


October 20 • 8:00 AM

Big Boobs Matter Most

Medical mnemonics are often scandalous and sexist, but they help the student to both remember important facts and cope with challenging new experiences.


October 20 • 6:00 AM

When Disease Becomes Political: The Likely Electoral Fallout From Ebola

Will voters blame President Obama—and punish Democrats in the upcoming mid-term elections—for a climate of fear?


October 20 • 4:00 AM

Coming Soon: The Anatomy of Ignorance


October 17 • 4:00 PM

What All Military Families Need to Know About High-Cost Lenders

Lessons from over a year on the beat.


October 17 • 2:00 PM

The Majority of Languages Do Not Have Gendered Pronouns

A world without “he.” Or “she.”


October 17 • 11:01 AM

How to Water a Farm in Sandy Ground

Physicists investigate how to grow food more efficiently in fine-grained soil.


October 17 • 10:00 AM

Can Science Fiction Spur Science Innovation?

Without proper funding, the answer might not even matter.


October 17 • 8:00 AM

Seattle, the Incredible Shrinking City

Seattle is leading the way in the micro-housing movement as an affordable alternative to high-cost city living.


October 17 • 6:00 AM

‘Voodoo Death’ and How the Mind Harms the Body

Can an intense belief that you’re about to die actually kill you? Researchers are learning more about “voodoo death” and how it isn’t limited to superstitious, foreign cultures.


October 17 • 4:00 AM

That Arts Degree Is Paying Off

A survey of people who have earned degrees in the arts find they are doing relatively well, although their education didn’t provide much guidance on managing a career.


Follow us


That Cigarette Would Make a Great Water Filter

Clean out the ashtray, add some aluminum oxide, and you've (almost) got yourself a low-cost way to remove arsenic from drinking water.

Love and Hate in Israel and Palestine

Psychologists find that parties to a conflict think they're motivated by love while their enemies are motivated by hate.

How to Water a Farm in Sandy Ground

Physicists investigate how to grow food more efficiently in fine-grained soil.

Unlocking Consciousness

A study of vegetative patients closes in on the nature of consciousness.

Advice for Emergency Alert Systems: Don’t Cry Wolf

A survey finds college students don't always take alerts seriously.

The Big One

One company, Amazon, controls 67 percent of the e-book market in the United States—down from 90 percent five years ago. September/October 2014 new-big-one-5

Copyright © 2014 by Pacific Standard and The Miller-McCune Center for Research, Media, and Public Policy. All Rights Reserved.