For a long time, stadiums were considered investments that would pay dividends for 40 or more years. That includes buildings such as Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, Yankee Stadium, and Dodger Stadium. Like a skyscraper, the facilities were simply built to last.
But the pressure on cities to "keep up with the Joneses" has slashed the perceived lifespan of a stadium in half, often eliminating the net benefits to the communities that spend huge amounts of money to build them.
And the attitude has spread across numerous leagues:
- The Atlanta Falcons were told by the NFL their 18-year-old stadium was inadequate, so Georgia is forking over more than $500 million to build them a new home;
- The Atlanta Braves will leave their once-"unrivaled" stadium in 2017, after just 19 years of baseball;
- The Washington Redskins are lamenting their 17-year-old stadium and seeking a new future home;
- The Miami Heat, owned by one of the world's richest men, Micky Arison, insisted in 2013 - in the middle of LeBron mania - that they needed new subsidies for their 13-year-old facility, which replaced a 12-year-old facility;
- The Columbus Crew asked for a new soccer-only stadium to replace their 14-year-old soccer-only stadium;
- The Tampa Bay Rays were already asking for upgrades 25 days after signing a deal to move into what is now Tropicana Field...and of course, haven't stopped since;
- And of course, spring training ballparks need to be replaced or seriously upgraded every decade, or else players may not be able to properly prepare for the season!
This past spring, not only did the legislature carve out more money for stadium subsidies in Florida, but they also made it easier for teams to leave long-term leases early by reducing the damages they'd have to pay.
New stadiums are more state-of-the-art than ever...which makes it all-the-more ironic that society feels the need to replace the half-billion-dollar buildings every 20 years.