Sunday, March 31, 2013

To the Critics of Critical Economists:

This blog routinely quotes economists who criticize professional teams' positive economic impact studies.  And every time I write about the topic, a loyal reader calls me "anti-Rays" or comments I've become "a parrot of irrational logic supported by untrue 'facts.'"

But more and more economists are putting their thoughts in writing, and - with no apparent business or political connection to the stadium discussion - their only motivation seems to be the public's welfare.

Sunday morning, the Tampa Bay Times wrote how there's little real evidence the Rays bring the often-quoted $100 million a year in economic impact to the region.

And I was also directed to a recent post that explains how pro sports teams in North America have evolved into "a very odd industry":
Typically we tend to think that firms need capital and labor to produce goods; and owners of the firm are responsible for providing the capital.  But in sports, much of the capital is provided by the state (see the Baade and Matheson study for how much the public subsidizes professional sports arenas and stadiums). 
Then there's the Greg Mankiw survey that shows an incredible consensus among economists (85%) that "Local and state governments should eliminate subsidies to professional sports franchises."

To show just how convincing the consensus is, the Mankiw survey indicates more economists are critical of sports subsidies than a large federal deficit!


  1. $100 mill.? "Hagan said. "Whether you like the Rays or not, whether you like sports or not, when you have an economic engine – really a $200 (million) to $300 million a year economic engine"
    Your blog isn't "anti-Rays", it's anti-progressive. Most of us don't bash your blog for your one-sided-opinions, we bash it for the lack evidence on a true overall economic impact a new Trop @ Channelside would have on Tampa, not in the first or 2, BUT what it have on Tampa 10-20-50 years from now...

    1. "first (year) or two"

    2. Feel free to post all the evidence Hagan used to arrive at a $200-300M/yr number.

      And, just sayin', that Downtown Tampa seems to be doing very very very well for itself right now without spending $300M on a new stadium.

    3. Noah, I admire what you have written here, and caution you that you are tilting at windmills when it comes to persuading some (blind allegiance Rays fans) that the public financing of a private business like the Rays is misguided at best, if not utterly wrong, as the ROI is simply non existent.
      People believe what they want to believe, and for some bizarro world reason, many want to willingly incur a higher or additional tax on their income, in the bizarre and misguided belief, that it will actually "help them."
      If I'm the rays organization, I'm LOVIN' those people!!!

  2. Downtown Tampa, last I checked, benefits from: 1. A publically financed state of the art sports / concert venue
    2. a publicly financed cruise port
    3. a publicly financed Convention Center
    4. nearly new hotels, built with the benefit of public subsidies
    5. publicly subsidized museums

    Yet, STILL, downtown Tampa lags way behind ST Pete in total restaurant sales, and closely similar measures of economic vitality. This, despite Tampa having far for more residents than St Petersburg, and serving as the county seat.

    In other words, Noah's comparison is wrong.

  3. It never ceases to amaze me the number of people who are so eager to hand over their tax dollars to a private company, like the Rays in this case.
    There is NO real, tangible evidence they can use to support their position that tax dollars going to the Rays helps the community. NO EVIDENCE.
    Point them to other cities across the country who have had to cut police or school budgets, due to onerous debt obligations on sports stadiums and they plug their fingers in their ears and yell "NAH NAH NAH! I CAN'T HEAR YOU!"

  4. Anonymous post at 12:21 is exactly wrong. There is no evidence nor any reasonable study ever conducted which indicates that the Rays' economic contributions to the community dwarf the amount of public monies spent, since Nearly every tax dollar spent would have been spent without the Rays, since the stadium was built and debt was incurred before the Rays existed.