An article in the New York Times from September 2010 should be required reading for the City Council and Mayor before weighing in on the proposed stadium complex downtown.
Seattle razed the Kingdome in 2000 but still owes more than $80 million in debt on its construction.
The RCA Dome in Indianapolis was demolished in 2008, but the debt lives on to the tune of $61 million.
The former Giants stadium – now a parking lot, has $110 million remaining to be paid by the state of New Jersey.
It’s not just the debt, but the alternative opportunities that could be lost in building a monument to the mayor and his cronies, as this quote from the article suggests:
“With more than four decades of evidence to back them up, economists almost uniformly agree that publicly financed stadiums rarely pay for themselves. The notable successes like Camden Yards in Baltimore often involve dedicated taxes or large infusions of private money. Even then, using one tax to finance a stadium can often steer spending away from other, perhaps worthier, projects.”
Perhaps we should consider repaving our deteriorating streets and replacing water mains.
There is no telling what the financing arrangements will be for the proposed stadium complex in Los Angeles.
But remember – teams are fickle and will always be on the lookout for fancier, glitzier digs. Sports complexes age faster than Playboy models. Texas Stadium lasted only thirty-seven years.
Unfortunately, the taxpayers cannot pull up roots as quickly as professional sports franchises. They can be left holding the bag long after the last game is played on the home field.
It is important that the city not be involved in the financing or debt guarantees for any new stadium.
The developers should be in the hook 100% for the debt and related improvements to the surrounding infrastructure. If the stadium cannot pencil out using private funds exclusively, it should not be built.