The Office of Economic & Demographic Research (EDR) concluded the $16 million Florida contributes a year to eight MLB, NHL, NBA, and NFL stadiums across the state (plus more for spring training facilities) do not produce positive return on investment for taxpayers, largely because only 11% of ticket-buyers came from out-of-state:
The Professional Sports Facilities Incentive Program has a projected ROI of 0.30. For every dollar spent through the incentive, the state of Florida received 30 cents in tax revenue. In addition, the state incentive caused Florida’s Real GDP to increase by about $369.9 million and caused Real Disposable Personal Income to grow by $295.1 million during the review window.The study even slams the popular, rosy studies teams like to commission!
Economic studies commissioned by proponents of public subsidies for professional sports facilities are likely to fail to recognize or account for the substitution effect of consumer spending, leakages in both visitor and franchise spending, and the opportunity costs of public (or taxpayer) expenditures. Academic economists have identified additional “misapplications, omissions, and gratuitous assumptions” which contribute to overly-optimistic economic impact studies and inconsistencies with peer-reviewed research by academic economists.It actually goes on quite a bit to discredit team-sponsored studies, touching upon issues they seldom cover, such as leakage (local spending disappearing to hotels and franchises owned by out-of-towners) and opportunity costs.
The state's report is certainly not without flaws. For instance, it doesn't include the "intangibles," such as marketing exposure and civic pride. But it should at least table any claims of robust economic impact of stadium handouts.
Interestingly enough, the report cast a very favorable view of subsidies to the Florida Sports Foundation, which promotes amateur events and Spring Training. The study reported FSF subsidies return $5.61 for every $1 taxpayers spend to support them. Why? They draw out-of-state visitors and put "heads in beds" that few pro teams ever will.
It's a fascinating read - check it out.