Special Report: Pan Am

An Affordable 25,000 Seat Stadium

Why couldn't we build a 25,000 seat stadium at West Harbour for $102 million?

By RTH Staff
Published August 03, 2010

Bob Young says the West Harbour won't work for him because the city has stated it will only build a 15,000 seat stadium if private sector co-investors do not add to the Future Fund and Pan Am money.

Young adds, "the Tiger-Cats cannot play in a 15,000 seat stadium in the West Harbour. Without the Tiger-Cats, there is no legacy use for a 15,000 seat stadium at this location."

From a CFL team perspective Young is correct, as the recent experience of the Montreal Alouettes can attest. Montreal has recently expanded their downtown stadium to 25,000 after this size was deemed necessary for financial viability.

If this is a major issue for Young, what about using the $102 million dollar funding envelope dedicated to the stadium to build a 25,000 seat stadium?  Going further, why not open it up for competitive bidding rather than the current scenario which is essentially looking at only one party (the Ticats and their development team) to build the expanded portion of the stadium?

A look at some recent Major League Soccer (MLS) stadiums around North America show that we aren't really getting a good bang for our buck in terms of a 15,000 seat stadium for $102 million in public dollars.

While some of the following examples are high end deluxe facilities, the costs demonstrate that a 25,000 seat facility of comparable quality to many facilities around North America could be had for our $102M funding envelope.It's at least worth opening the bidding process to see who would step up to do the job with such large amounts of public money on the table.

That way, the Ticat's business case for West Harbour would not be based on a 15,000 seat stadium, but the needed threshold of 25,000 for CFL sustainability.

Recent Stadium Prices
City Capacity Price Year Built
Toronto (BMO) 20,500 $62.5M 2006
Montreal (Saputo Stadium) 13,034 (expanding to 20,000) $14.1M (+$12M) 2007 (2012)
LA Galaxy (Home Depot Centre) 27,000 $150M 2003
Columbus (Crew Stadium) 20,455 $28.5M 1999
Chicago 20,000 $98M 2004
Salt Lake City 20,000 $115M 2006
Dallas (Pizza Hut Park) 20,500 $57M (stadium costs only) 2005
Houston 22,000 $95M 2012
San Jose 18,000 $60M 2012

Look at the BMO Stadium in Toronto: a 20,500 seat stadium for just $62 million. Could another 4,500 seats have been added for another $40 million?

23 Comments

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By bigguy1231 (registered) | Posted August 03, 2010 at 11:13:26

The 15,000 seat number is the minimum number of seats required for the Pan Am games. Thats why that number has been thrown around so often. I read somewhere that for the money being spent they will more than likely get many more seats than that. They will have to wait until plans are drawn up and costs estimated before knowing exactly what they are going to get.

The 15,000 seats for 100 million would be a top end stadium as far as amenities and seating are concerned. We don't need the top of the line. If we can get an extra 10,000 seats into a stadium with middle of the road seating and amenities I think the city will go for it. We don't need the best, all we need is something that is going to meet our needs.

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By Joel (anonymous) | Posted August 03, 2010 at 11:24:43

Don't forget the temporary New Empire Stadium in Vancouver, built for the BC Lions and the Vancouver Whitecaps while the roof at BC Place is replaced. It seats 27 500, and was built for a mere $14 million. Granted, it is very temporary, and it doesn't look that great, but hell, it's a cozy stadium. Surely a stadium that is less temporary and looks a little better could be built for well under $100M!

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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted August 03, 2010 at 11:34:33

With all the money Bob has to throw at his Go East Mountain marketing campaign, you'd think he could build it on his own. Has anyone else caught the TV spots on CHCH? I caught the last bit of one this morning at the gym.

Comment edited by UrbanRenaissance on 2010-08-03 10:35:09

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By Mark-Alan Whittle (anonymous) | Posted August 03, 2010 at 11:38:28

Fred has already spent $10 to %15 million to buy land, and still needs more to assemble the proper amount, the remaining property owners and developers are putting up a fight. On top of that, the demolition, expropriation costs and environmental studies have all went way over budget already, they doubled, council was repeatedly warned by point man David Adames. I'm starting to get a bad feeling this will be all over but the crying soon. Nobody is going to like the result. That's Hamilton get used to it.

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By F. Ward Cleat (anonymous) | Posted August 03, 2010 at 11:39:34

Here's another example. InfoCision Stadium in Akron Ohio opened Sept. 2009. Capacity 27,000 plus 3000 grassy knoll endzone seats. Total Cost $61.6 million.

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By F. Ward Cleat (anonymous) | Posted August 03, 2010 at 11:44:49

Is that not a corporate name "infoCision." This stadium was built on a University campus, so that would suggest naming rights are worth something no matter where you built it.

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By jason (registered) | Posted August 03, 2010 at 11:47:20

maybe the university has 3 highways running through the middle of it. why would any company care about transit-riding students being their most captive market for a naming rights deal.......

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By bigguy1231 (registered) | Posted August 03, 2010 at 12:07:04

F. Ward Cleat,

To be fair that stadium at the University of Akron is just bleacher seating with a metal frame. Thats fine for college students paying $20 to go to a game. If I am paying $60-$80 to go to a game I want something a little more comfortable to sit on.

Many college stadiums in the US have this type of seating. I remember being at a football game at Illinois State University and the stadium had 45,000 bleacher type seats. It's not a very comfortable experience sitting on a wooden bench with your back open to the wind and I was much younger then.

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By F. Ward Cleat (anonymous) | Posted August 03, 2010 at 12:36:50

Granted bigguy1231. What would 27,000 appropriate seats add to the price tag? $10 million, I'm guessing. Other than the seats and a cover over the stands it's a good example of what could be done with the existing $102 million.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted August 03, 2010 at 13:20:09

With all the money Bob has to throw at his Go East Mountain marketing campaign, you'd think he could build it on his own. Has anyone else caught the TV spots on CHCH? I caught the last bit of one this morning at the gym.

Through all of this I have started to wonder, the City and the Tiger-Cats talk about losing money at IWS. Are they losing money on purpose? Is it much more comparatively than other CFL teams? One poster already noted how Saskatchewan is one of (if not the only one), that has turned a profit because they are owned by the fans.

Are they losing money because they are building large screens and large marketing campaigns like this Go East Mountain one? All this is nice and the entertainment value is right up there at IW, but to what expense if they are losing that much money?

Should we have a committee like CATCH, for city owned buildings and teams that play out of them like the Cats? One that makes numbers and reports public and acts like a liason between the fans and big money so we know the truth in detailed so we can form an informed response to issues such as this one.

I was talking with the Cast yesterday and they keep throwing numbers like $93 million to fix IWS, yet this report linked above states $20M up to 2014, and the City supposedly has a 20 year plan which makes me believe that was to get us to the 2030 Commonwealth Games? Yes, there is still probably a yearly upkeep costs which I believe is around $1.3M a year, but what does it cost yearly for upkeep on a new stadium? Eventually those numbers will increase with age as well right? Now does it all add up/compare?

It would be nice if we all had easy access to proof behind these numbers and reasoning. My questions regarding 'why they can't hold concerts at IW' were not good enough for my liking either. They talk about egress from the field and sprinkler systems which seem like easy/relatively inexpensive updgrades in the grand scheme of things, and of course they through the 'residential' neighborhood in there. EM isn't too far from it's proposed community and neither is WH.

Do we really know the entire truth about all of this? My data is just based on what I have been able to find. Where do these numbers that I cannot find come from?

"IWS is going to crumble into the earth in 6 years, otherwise the engineers won't sign off on it any longer after that". Really? The report linked in my post above doesn't lead me to believe this?

Sure, maybe it's time to say goodbye to IW as I have stated, but if EM is our only choice (and from what Mr. Young and the CFL commish have stated it is the only choice), my second choice is 'None of the Above' - after West Harbour.

I am not trying to plug my site on RTH. I believe wholeheartedly in what these/you folks are trying to accomplish. I will vote West Harbour the day before the council vote, but I truly think we can have two votes here. This isn't an election so there really are no rules. "I chose West Harbour, or None of the Above" is a statement that I think needs to be made.

This isn't about my love for Ivor Wynne Stadium anymore although yes I love the 'old girl' dearly. This is about what is right for my/your city. West Harbour is the right choice in my eyes and as HostCo has stated, it is our choice and one we will have to live with for a very long time. Not Bob Young's or Mark Cohon's. I have some questions about the Harour as well, but we only have two choices so I think it's a nobrainer.

Just found this on Cohon by the way.

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By JonC (registered) | Posted August 03, 2010 at 19:21:12

Don't worry, Bob Young owns many corporations. The team losses money, but the other corporations set up for concessions, mechandising, etc all do quite well. People don't buy sports teams for philanthropy.

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By Imperial (anonymous) | Posted August 03, 2010 at 19:37:59

I wish council would come up with statements like this. It would solve a number of key issues in the debate and finally demand that Hamilton building something with some serious architectural and design excellence. Obviously it can be done. Is this where Arcelor Mital steps up and develops some super cool College program for high level design students and plops them in an industrial building for the next 4 years to study the development of the Stadium (no matter where it ends up)? I'm gonna make a call and see if we can set this up.

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By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted August 03, 2010 at 19:56:51

A Closer Look at Stadium Subsidies

By Dennis Coates

Despite what many people believe, professional sports venues typically do not spur large-scale economic activity.

The 2008 Major League Baseball season will be the last one played in Yankee Stadium. After 85 years, the most storied venue in American sports will be torn down. Starting in 2009, the New York Yankees will play in the “new” Yankee Stadium, built right next to the old one. Across town in Queens, another New York baseball stadium, much less famous and hallowed, will also shut its doors after 2008. The close of Shea Stadium, home to the New York Mets since 1964, will make way for Citi Field. Both projects have been in the works for some time. While the new Yankee Stadium has been heavily subsidized by New York taxpayers, Citi Field is entirely a private endeavor—which, as modern sports stadiums go, makes it somewhat unusual.

Since 1990, construction of stadiums and arenas for professional sports franchises has occurred at an incredible pace. In that time, Major League Baseball (30 teams) has opened 19 new stadiums and has three more currently under construction. The National Football League (32 teams) has opened 17 new stadiums; done major renovations to four others; has three under construction; and has four more projects at various stages of planning and negotiations. The National Basketball Association (30 teams) has opened more than two-thirds of its 30 arenas since 1990, and at least three NBA franchises are actively seeking new arenas.

In most cases, state and local governments have been closely involved in the financing, design, construction, and management or ownership of professional sports facilities. Even Washington has played a role: the local and state bonds used to fund new stadiums and arenas typically are exempt from federal income tax. This has been the subject of hearings before the House Oversight Subcommittee on Domestic Policy, with some lawmakers questioning whether subsidizing stadiums for private gain is consistent with the goal of aiding “public” infrastructure projects. Hundreds of millions of tax dollars are at stake, so it is important for business leaders and elected officials to understand the costs and benefits of publicly financed stadiums.

Since 1990, construction of stadiums and arenas for professional sports franchises has occurred at an incredible pace.

Both must be seen in historical context. A 1926 article in a magazine called The Playground documented a stadium construction boom that began shortly after World War I. “Not only universities but cities and high schools and private agencies are also joining the stadium ranks and building large structures to accommodate the crowds who attend the athletic activities, festivals, pageants and other large community events,” it reported. The number of stadiums increased from 11 in 1917 to 70 when the article was written. In the five years from 1921 to 1926, 56 new stadiums were built, an average of more than 11 per year. Writing in 1957 in a magazine called Municipal Finance, economist Ralph Wulz suggested that the stadium boom was initiated in part by municipalities that “flocked to the fold in constructing huge memorials to war veterans and war casualties.” The subsequent growth in public ownership of such facilities was, Wulz suggested, fueled by Depression-era “make-work” programs. The stadium construction that occurred between 1917 and 1926 cost around $25.5 million—roughly $295.65 million in 2000 dollars.

The Playground article pointed out that the shape, size, and cost of stadiums were three of the most important factors to be considered. Shape mattered because the traditional ellipse, or Roman plan, made it more difficult to hold track events that required a straightaway, while the horseshoe structure did not have this problem. Planners also had to make sure the stadium could be expanded as the city grew or when “the university has graduated more enthusiastic alumni to add to those already crowding the bleachers for the big games.” Two additional concerns listed in 1926 were the adaptability of the structure and its management. Adaptability was important “in order that the stadium may have as broad a use as possible.”

Concerning cost, the 1926 Playground article suggested that $10 to $15 per seat was a reasonable expenditure. The stadium built at Ohio State University in 1922 cost $1.7 million and seated 63,056—a cost per seat of $26.96 in 1922 dollars, or $277.58 in 2000 dollars. To give some perspective, Brookings Institution economist Benjamin Okner reported in a 1974 volume entitled Government and the Sports Business (edited by Roger Noll) that Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Stadium, which sat 59,594 and operated from 1970 to 2000, had per seat construction costs of about $2,964 in 2000 dollars. Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, which seats 65,535 and opened in 2004, cost around $6,104 per seat in 2000 dollars. The Ohio State stadium was financed, in part, by a $1 million pledge from alumni, students, and “ardent supporters”; the remainder was covered by football game receipts. Three Rivers Stadium was financed using bonds issued by the city of Pittsburgh, and Paul Brown Stadium has been financed by a sales tax increase. The stadium at Ohio State was intended for use by the university’s football, baseball, track, indoor tennis, golf, wrestling, and fencing teams, and also for intramural athletics. Three Rivers Stadium was home to the Pirates of Major League Baseball and the Steelers of the NFL, while Paul Brown Stadium is used by the NFL’s Bengals.

In 1957, Wulz argued that one basis for public ownership of stadiums was that “private enterprise could not provide the service which the public demanded and at the same time realize an adequate profit upon its investment.” He also noted that the facilities did host events of a “civic nature and thus may be worthy of community-wide support.” Recognizing that city managers had been tasked with operating enterprises “which lost money or indeed went bankrupt under private management,” Wulz focused on how much the municipality should charge the private entities using the stadium or auditorium. Only after an analysis of the facility and its uses, he said, could public officials determine if “a tax subsidy is warranted.” What types of activities deserve a public subsidy? “Governmental activities and perhaps activities at which no admission is charged,” said Wulz. “At the same time,” he reckoned, “commercial type activities” should “pay the full cost of the services or facilities which are provided.”

Depending on how one measures the public share of stadium costs, it ranges from 58 percent to 63 percent after 2000.

Clearly, stadiums built with public funds have evolved over time. No longer are they built to honor the sacrifices of American soldiers. No longer are they built to be flexible venues capable of hosting a great variety of events. And no longer does the public sector determine the appropriate price to charge private enterprise for use of this publicly supplied resource. Today, sports stadiums are largely the private domain of for-profit businesses that the public sector subsidizes, often with special taxes.

In recent years, Judith Long, an urban planning expert at Harvard University, and Andrew Zimbalist, an economist at Smith College, have produced comprehensive discussions of stadium and arena subsidies. State and local governments assist pro sports franchises in myriad ways, including covering building and operating costs. To truly understand the extent of stadium subsidization, it is important to account for all the ways in which public money pays for the facilities. Public sources of information tend to focus on the public share of capital costs, which can produce misleading results regarding the extent of the public subsidy. For example, Zimbalist and Long show that for most of the stadiums and arenas built for professional sports franchises and in operation since 1990, “when net operating costs are included, the public share goes up.”

Depending on how one measures the public share of stadium costs, it ranges from 58 percent to 63 percent after 2000. The average public contribution to the total of capital and operating cost is between $149 million and $161 million in 1995-99, and between $249 and $280 million in 2000-06. Additionally, Long and Zimbalist note that public participation varies among stadiums, which suggests that it is highly sensitive to the bargaining skills and efforts of the municipal officials in different cities.

Over time, both the purpose and the real cost of public support for stadiums and arenas have changed. It may be that the subsidies state and local governments provide for stadium and arena construction and operation are justified by the community benefits those facilities provide. But the evidence says otherwise.

It is not quite correct to argue that local governments could use the tax revenues they spend on stadiums in “better” ways, such as on schools or health programs. Typically, the funding for stadiums does not come directly out of an existing government budget but rather from a new source of revenue, like special taxes on tickets or add-ons to the local sales tax. The municipality likely would not impose these taxes for any purpose other than subsidizing the stadium, so other governmental services are not necessarily being shortchanged. (Of course, the increased taxes do reduce the disposable income of local consumers, so the stadium subsidy does impose opportunity costs on citizens, despite having no such effect on the government’s budget.)

The most basic question about stadiums, arenas, and sports franchises is the extent to which they contribute to the vitality of the local economy. Supporters of publicly financed stadiums argue that the benefits are substantial, while opponents say they are small and highly concentrated among the wealthiest citizens. To buttress their case, supporters mostly use economic impact studies that predict how the local economy will be affected by the stadium, while opponents compare the economy before and after the facility is constructed. Supporters tend to imply that redistribution of economic activity from the suburbs or outlying areas of a city to the downtown is desirable, while opponents generally oppose this sort of redistribution and focus instead on job and income creation.

There is little evidence of large increases in income or employment associated with the introduction of professional sports or the construction of new stadiums.

The typical economic impact study gathers data on all aspects of spending related to a stadium, including the money spent to build it and the money spent by fans in connection with the stadium (including on tickets, at restaurants, and at hotels). The impact of this spending ripples outward into other areas of the economy through a multiplier. By linking spending to employment, the study then calculates how many jobs a stadium has created. It does not perform a cost-benefit analysis, which would address the opportunity costs of raising taxes to pay for a stadium and consider alternative uses of those funds.

Academic researchers have examined the prospective economic impact studies and found a variety of methodological errors in them, all of which raise doubts about the magnitude of the predicted spending and job increases. Other scholars use data from multiple years before and after stadium construction to measure the impact of the stadium. These ex post studies reject stadium subsidies as an effective tool for generating local economic development.

My own research, conducted with economist Brad Humphreys (who is now at the University of Alberta), has used perhaps the most extensive data, incorporating yearly observations on per capita personal income, employment, and wages in each of the metropolitan areas that was home to a professional football, basketball, or baseball team between 1969 and the late 1990s. Our analysis tried to determine the consequences of stadium construction and franchise relocations while controlling for other circumstances in the local economy. Scholars Robert Baade, Allen Sanderson, Victor Matheson, and others have taken slightly different approaches, but the results are fairly constant from one analysis to another. There is little evidence of large increases in income or employment associated with the introduction of professional sports or the construction of new stadiums.

Indeed, my work with Humphreys finds that the professional sports environment—which includes the presence of franchises in multiple sports, the arrival or departure of teams, and stadium construction—may actually reduce local incomes. For example, we found that the overall sports environment reduced per capita personal income, a finding that was new in the economic literature at the time we published it (1999). We also found that, in many local economies, wages and employment in the retail and services sectors have dropped because of professional sports.

There are several possible explanations for why development does not occur. First, consumer spending on sports may simply substitute for spending on other types of entertainment—and on other goods and services generally—so there is very little new income or employment generated. Sports fans that attend a game may reduce their visits to the movies or to restaurants to free up finances for game tickets and concessions. Patrons of local restaurants and bars who come to watch the games on television also are likely to cut back on their other entertainment spending.

Second, compared to the alternative goods and services that sports fans may purchase, spending related to stadium attendance has a relatively small multiplier effect. This is because spending at the stadium translates into salaries for wealthy athletes, many of whom live outside the city where they play. High-income individuals generally spend a smaller fraction of their income than low- and middle-income people—and much of the spending professional athletes do occurs in a different community than where they earned it. So the money paid to players does not circulate as widely or abundantly as it would were it paid to people with less wealth and more attachment to the city.

Third, whether the stadium subsidy comes from raising local taxes or from slashing public services—or from both—its effect is to reduce the net spending generated by the stadium project. Plus, imposing new taxes introduces new administrative costs and makes the economy less efficient. Consider the common practice of funding stadium and arena subsidies with new taxes on hotel occupancy and rental cars. One argument for such taxes at the local level is that they are paid by outside visitors, many of whom may be in town to see the sporting events. But the taxes would also be paid by traveling businessmen and conventioneers. When comparing cities to host an upcoming meeting, businesses and professional associations may select between otherwise comparable cities based on which one has the lower hotel and rental car taxes. In other words, the new taxes used to subsidize the stadium construction may ultimately reduce visits to the city by non-sports-related travelers.

My work with Humphreys finds that the professional sports environment may actually reduce local incomes.

Newspapers routinely run articles about the great business done by bars and restaurants in the neighborhood of a stadium. Yet such anecdotal evidence is unconvincing: it simply shows that the recipients of highly concentrated benefits are easier to find than those who suffer the extremely diffuse costs. The aggregate economic studies account for the distribution of gains and losses, and they find no proof that the gains outweigh the losses.

The principal criticism of research finding no net economic boon from stadiums is that downtown stadiums are likely to have larger benefits than suburban stadiums. Yet this analysis is heavily influenced by stadiums constructed in the late 1960s and 1970s, which were located predominantly in the suburbs. For example, Thomas Chema, former executive director of Cleveland’s Gateway Economic Development Corporation, says that the value of stadiums “as catalysts for economic development...depends upon where they are located and how they are integrated into a metropolitan area’s growth strategy.”

Economists Rob Baade (Lake Forest College), Mimi Nikolova (Lake Forest College), and Victor Matheson (College of the Holy Cross) provide stark visual evidence in support of this argument, comparing the impact of Chicago’s Wrigley Field and U.S. Cellular Field. The economic development possibilities near U.S. Cellular Field are obviously limited by the vast parking lot and multilane highway that surround the stadium. City and regional planners Arthur C. Nelson (Virginia Tech University) and Charles Santo (University of Memphis) each find that teams that play in the central business district of a city tend to be associated with an increase in the metropolitan area’s share of the regional income. Of course, this could simply be evidence of income redistribution, or of economic activity shifting from one area to another, rather than evidence of region-wide benefits.

Analysts such as Santo, along with Cleveland State University economists Ziona Austrian and Mark Rosentraub, suggest that the real question should be: Does a stadium help the redevelopment of an area that actually needs redevelopment? To them, a downtown area is deserving of help even if that help comes at the expense of the rest of the area. From this perspective, the studies that find little economic growth flowing from stadiums and sports franchises are not relevant. Instead, the mere possibility that a new stadium will aid urban redevelopment in a central city or downtown area is a sufficient rationale for the subsidies.

A second—and, to me, more telling—criticism of the existing research is that the data used are not precise enough to capture the true economic effects of stadiums. Economists such as Baade, Matheson, Robert Baumann (College of the Holy Cross), Marc Lavoie (University of Ottawa), and Gabriel Rodriguez (University of Ottawa) argue that sports comprise much too small a component of the local economy for the effects to be visible in aggregate data. In their research, Baade, Baumann, and Matheson use monthly sales tax data, while Lavoie and Rodriguez’s analysis utilizes monthly hotel occupancy rates in Canadian cities, to find a less aggregate measure of economic activity that may be linked to sporting events. But in the end, evidence from the monthly data does not support the notion that stadiums and sports franchises deliver sizable economic benefits.

It is clear that not all citizens in a community benefit equally from the presence of professional sports franchises in their city.

Despite the lack of evidence for widespread growth in income and employment, or even increased hotel occupancy, state and local government subsidies for stadiums, arenas, and professional sports may still be sound public policy. They certainly provide consumption and public-good benefits that are not measured by pure economic data. Long and Zimbalist have provided credible estimates of the costs of subsidies. If the consumption benefits derived from game attendance and the public-good benefits of having a franchise are greater than these costs, then the welfare of the community is enhanced by financing stadiums. But how big are the consumption and public-good benefits?

The consumption benefits are the most straightforward to estimate. They are no different than net benefits from consumption of any other good. Information on ticket prices and attendance allows us to determine total spending at the stadium. If ticket demand falls as the price of tickets rises, we can find the difference between the maximum amount people are willing to pay for tickets and the actual payments made. This difference, known as consumer surplus, represents the value of the consumption benefits from attendance at the stadium. Estimates of these benefits vary by sport and city, and they depend on how responsive attendance demand is to changes in ticket prices. However, the results suggest that public-good benefits of around $10 per person may be sufficient to justify stadium subsidies.

Interestingly, Humphreys and I found that the overall sports environment—which, as mentioned earlier, includes the presence of franchises in multiple sports, the arrival or departure of teams, and stadium construction—in a given area reduced per capita personal income by about $10. In other words, every man, woman, and child in the metropolitan area was poorer by $10 as a result of the sports environment. This suggests that the public-good benefits are worth just enough to pay for the subsidies. Sports economists and policy analysts are using a variety of methods to get more precise estimates of the public-good benefits. In the future, we should know better whether these benefits are sufficient—in combination with private consumption benefits—to cover the public financing of professional sports stadiums.

Of course, even if the benefits of stadiums and arenas cover the subsidies, the subsidies still may not be sound policy. First, there may be enormous variation in the distribution of the consumption and public-good benefits. It is clear that not all citizens in a community benefit equally from the presence of professional sports franchises in their city. Indeed, because the tax revenues used for the subsidies are often generated from lotteries and sales taxes whose burden falls disproportionately on the poor, while the consumption benefits go mostly to relatively wealthy sports fans, the net benefits are distributed regressively. Second, we should consider the net benefits to the community of alternative uses of the funds spent subsidizing sports facilities. Good policy means using the money where the net benefit is greatest, not simply where the net benefit is positive. That’s something state and local governments should keep in mind before pledging millions of dollars to fund the next new stadium project. And it’s something Congress should remember when evaluating the future of U.S. tax policy.

Dennis Coates - April 29, 2008, Professor of Economics, University of Maryland, Baltimore County.


Benefits and Burdens in Post-World Cup South Africa, Planetizen

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By BobInnes (registered) - website | Posted August 03, 2010 at 22:05:53

Bob Young, Please. Take a hike. Leave. Quit. Vamoose. Scram. Beat it. Take Ticats and Pan Am Games with you and anything else you like. Take your friends too, before they get voted in (again?). I/we cannot afford you and your big ideas, let alone this inane time wasting argument. Heck, I don't even have all night to read all Butani's posts quoting other people ad nauseum, even if they are experts. Let me suggest Burlington, Markham, Oakville, Waterloo, London. Richer communities with lower taxes and better business environments. They will love you and support you well. But I say good riddance to your money sewer. (No offence to genuine sewers, those indispensable items which really do need my money, or so I'm told.) Time to go. Nice knowin' ya.
Bye.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted August 03, 2010 at 23:46:05

Amazing article Mahesh. Usually I just skim long posts like that, but I was glued to every paragraph.

The facts just don't stack up to stadium rhetoric. As someone who's done a lot of research into Olympic issues, I can tell ya the same thing usually happens there. Huge windfall for a few developers, and sadly underperforming public revenues.

The dumber this gets, the harder it's going to be to justify a stadium at all. And that is not to say that it isn't already very dumb, and hard to justify already.

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted August 04, 2010 at 18:20:05

I prefer options other than a stadium for a West Habour revitalization, however I also feel that this stadium is our best option considering the non future fund money that is on the table. Could we accomplish as much for the West Harbour with future fund money alone? Let me know your opinions please!

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By slodrive (registered) | Posted August 04, 2010 at 22:13:29

BMO Field, Empire Stadium? Folks...hopefully we're aiming a little higher than a bunch of empty pop cans and pipe-cleaners used for those facilities. Poor attempts to illustrate the point. I think Red Bull Stadium in New York might be a better example. Don't have the stats/ specs on hand though.

Regardless of location, let's have something that we can be proud of, and won't need to be replaced in 15 years.

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By Chris Angel (registered) | Posted August 05, 2010 at 13:56:16

To those who's dour socialism cannot abide sports castles, your victory is at hand. Another round of oatmeal for all! When the WH site proves impossible to deal with in a workable time frame, the core-centric pro renewal types will scream it was Bob's fault. Nothing new there. City council will look serious and make various innocuous excuses while claiming to have made a super human effort from which valuable lessons were learned. Life goes on in the hammer. Fifty years to build a little stretch of highway, that's us. Buildings rot to the ground before our city acts, that's us. Imagination means more parking meters, that's us.

Let the Pan Am games go somewhere there is vitality and common purpose. Someone like Hazel McCallion could probably pick up the pieces. Not everyone can be that foreward thinking though, so I understand if nobody here is up to the task. Maybe council and or Pan Am organizers can approach some of the surrounding municipalities about taking on more of the games and just leave Hamilton what it can handle; like table tennis or lawn bowling. Seriously though I would just as soon give all of it away this is just too embarrasing. New Hamilton moto - "Hamilton the City With No Self Esteem"

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By Jeffrey93 (registered) | Posted August 06, 2010 at 11:26:35

Does anyone here really want to go to Ti-Cat games in a stadium like BMO Field?!?!

I think this is what Bob Young is forgetting....with a $102M 15-20,000 seat stadium..it's going to be NICE! He should be salivating at the thought of tacking on some extra seats to a beautiful building.

If I were Bob and asked to pay some money into expanding a stadium like BMO.....I'd probably balk at the idea too.

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By Oliver_PinkStuff (registered) | Posted August 06, 2010 at 16:30:50

Has everyone forgotten!

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will have to decide when, not If but when Toronto gets the promise of an expansion NFL team... it's upon us and the eminent demises of the CFL will follow shortly afterward. Toronto won't support the two football teams and with the CFL thriving only in a couple communities out west the CFL flirts with the 'Long Black Vail' each year. So, with with Argos soon looking for a new place to play... the CFL can sit back and enjoy watching a division dominated by Montreal who recently UPGRADED! their existing university stadium to compete in a rather lack-luster CFL East. My guess is they had enough sense to realize they were winning without the " new white elephant' or The "Big O" as it's lovingly referred. Perhaps Montreal who just recently paid off the massive debt of the 1976 Olympics had a case of DejaVu when the phrase 'new & stadium' snuck into the same breath. The CFL may go under! is just one reason why Hamilton Ti-Cats football should have nothing to do with our new multi-purpose PAN-AM stadium decision ... they can build their own fantastic arena with all the cash and optimistic future the CFL holds... Wake up!

Secondly - http://www.escarpment.org/home/index.php - The Niagara Escarpment is the most prominent topographical feature of southern Ontario. Designated a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve in 1990, the Niagara Escarpment is an internationally recognized landform and is the cornerstone of Ontario’s Greenbelt. If you've already Bamboozled people into their cars and down the road to watch yet another horror-show unfold then make them drive 10 minutes further into Brantford we don't want another inch of this beautiful Biosphere scarred for use of something so insignificant (upon the Hilltop... pleeease!). Red Hill Valley X-pressway was a necessity not a conspiracy! Hamilton needed it to be progressive, it was obvious, 25 years in the making , not a group of dreamers... clinging to 'the good -old days' where gigantic sell-out 100,000 seat stadiums in the countr-side were the norm, guess what... they all failed! They've all been re-built in the core of the city.

Ive been a football fan, CFL & NFL all my life - right here in 'The Hammer' and I wish the Ti-Cats well hope they get back to their winning ways but, there is something very wrong with that east-end escarpment plan and as the dead-line fast approaches for a final decision on the destination for the new mufti-purpose PAN-AM stadium... consider the initial plan in the West Harbor as the correct proposal and take a hint from Montreal... sometimes digging up the past is the way to go! We'll all be very proud of a vert beautiful Bayfront Park celebration.

Thanks for voting... West is the Best!

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By Cityjoe (anonymous) | Posted August 07, 2010 at 14:31:05

If it means anything, the Spec, hasn't refreshed or bumped up comments on their blog for a very long time.

The 2 comments that still head the page are: 1) "Delusional Fred", & 2) "Don't respect Sen. Braley cuz he has given so much to Hamilton."
ARGH! A donation is a donation, not an agreement to purchase. ( they are also tax deductible) I had no idea that the GHA was up for sale, but I guess i stand corrected-?

There have also been comments from posters about censorship for no valid reason.

Oh Spec!....BUMP IT UP Already!

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By Cityjoe (anonymous) | Posted August 07, 2010 at 14:33:24

This should read " Don't disrespect Sen. Braley"


(The 2 comments that still head the page are: 1) "Delusional Fred", & 2) "Don't ***respect Sen. Braley cuz he has given so much to Hamilton.")

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By finiteman (anonymous) | Posted August 07, 2010 at 18:49:00

For the life of me I cannot understand why this argument has not been pushed at the city from day 1.

The CFL needs 25,000 seats minimum and for Hamilton 25-30K would be appropriate. Not getting a stadium plan that meets that criteria from day 1 not only lessons the city's bargaining power, it is beyond foolish politically.

The Unversity of North Texas is building a very nice stadium - the US's first LEED stadium - for about $80M. It will seat 30K and will have suites.

There is no way Hamilton could not afford to build a 30,000 seat CFL friendly stadium with luxury boxes for $102M.

Chair backed seats are not that expensive. Saputo stadium has 14K chairbacked seats and the total cost of the stadium was under $15M. (Don't get caught up on the total cost of Saputo - that was built on an existing soccer pitch. It would be more accurate to list the "construction costs" as expansion costs. The point is chair backed seating is not that expensive.)

Also what else is going to be done out there? Throwing a stadium in doesn't make a dead community blossom. What else is the city going to do to revitalize the area?

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