Photo: Flickr / Maciek Lulko

For many sports managers looking for a new base for their home team, trying to market the development and construction of new sports stadiums has been touted as providing a variety of economic benefits to the city of interest.

However, this lack of interest for cities to pay for sports arenas is not limited to massive construction projects similar to the size of the Air Canada Centre or the Rogers Centre. Rather, more modestly sized recreation areas that possess a hockey rink or a swimming pool, and buildings with similar sports requirements are also getting the boot from municipal financiers. But why is this the case? Surely, local sports facilities offer benefits to locales outside of pure economic factors. Certainly, while community centers are not on the chopping block when it comes to ensuring that such facilities continue to be funded, the main issue by those arguing against putting forward municipal funds towards massive sports arenas that would be geared towards just one activity or sport. 

According to a local economics professor at the University of Calgary, having the city pay for the sponsoring of professional sports teams is merely a public relations stunt that has little net benefit for the city or its citizens, at least from an economic standpoint. He has cited the constant issue of development projects being way over the initial requested budgets. An example of this was the cost for a new arena for the Calgary Flames, which was to cost nearly 900 million dollars initially, with private financing and loans covering almost half the cost. Eventually, the price for the stadium ballooned to over 1.3 billion dollars, with the taxpayers being responsible for forking over a billion dollars of that price tag. 

His stance is criticized by professors who work in the sports field, who suggest that one must be able to look beyond pure economics to understand other potential benefits that can arise from hosting well-known sports teams. According to a professor from the University of Alberta, ensuring that a city has a stadium that hosts a local team helps drive up the happiness factor amongst residents in the host town. Additionally, stadiums have also been linked to help raise property prices, especially those that are situated close to the arena.  Additionally, supporters of such policies have argued that stadiums offer economic benefits through ticket sales and increased tourism that would not exist without such facilities.

Published Date: Oct 23 2017