Last Super Bowl-related item (probably) … this one very much relevant to metro Atlanta and the state of Georgia. From an editorial by Bloomberg:
As you watch the Super Bowl Feb. 5, spare a thought for the taxpayers in the host city of Indianapolis. The stadium in which the game will be played has been financed largely at their expense and, like so many sports venues built with public money, the cost just keeps growing.
Lucas Oil Stadium, where the Colts play eight regular season games per year, has every amenity: a retractable roof, state-of-the-art turf, seven locker rooms, 137 luxury suites, 1,000 flat-screen televisions. And well it should: It cost $720 million to build.
Of this, the Colts paid only $100 million. To cover the rest, local officials raised taxes on hotels, restaurants and rental cars, and issued bonds that soon led to ballooning financing costs.
The editorial refers to a Bloomberg news story about the specific financing mistake Indianapolis made — one that’s not likely to be a problem here if the state and city agree, as seems increasingly likely, to build a new stadium for the Falcons. But the following problems will be germane:
With the Colts threatening to leave town in 2006, an economic-impact study done for Indianapolis suggested wondrous civic advantages would soon flow from a new stadium: Along with the expansion of an adjacent convention center, the project would create $2.25 billion in economic benefits over 10 years, 4,200 new permanent jobs and 4,900 construction jobs. And, of course, the team would stay. The stadium duly opened in 2008.
But like many studies of its kind, this one will probably turn out to be fantasy. Public funding for sports stadiums has been found, in dozens of studies over several decades, to fall short of its promised benefits and to cost taxpayers more than expected.
Robert A. Baade of the Heartland Institute, a research group in Chicago that promotes free markets, examined 48 cities over a 30-year period and found “no factual basis” for the argument that professional-sports stadiums and teams have a significant impact on economic growth. A study by Judith Grant Long, an associate professor of urban planning at Harvard University, found that public subsidies for stadiums are typically 40 percent more expensive for taxpayers than initially advertised.
I have heard no good explanation for why the alleged conservatives running our state would want — immediately after paying off the bonds that financed the Georgia Dome — to sink another $400 million or more into a stadium that will simply mean the same number of games are played at two stadiums rather than one, while precluding the use of hotel/motel taxes for transportation, education, law enforcement, water/sewer infrastructure, reducing other taxes …
– By Kyle Wingfield