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Taking It On the Chin Again

2008 April 20
by Brad Humphreys

Longtime readers of the Sports Economist may recall that I have taken my fair share of abuse from the print media in the past. I have been a critic of subsidies for professional sports facility construction for years, and this doesn’t always sit well with people — cough cough sports reporters cough cough — who have a vested interest in subsidizing sports stadiums and arenas — cough cough team owners cough cough. A couple of years ago, a Washington DC sports columnist called me a “clown” in his column after I pointed out that subsidies for the new stadium for the Nationals were a bad idea.

I have moved up here to Edmonton, in the Great White North, where the powers that be have decided it’s time for a new arena for the beloved Oilers. Last Friday, I gave a lunchtime speech to the Economics Society of Northern Alberta with my usual spiel about the lack of tangible economic benefits from a new arena. Today, I was skewered in the Edmonton Sun by sports columnist John Short who seems to have taken offense at the idea that a shiny new arena for the Oilers on the public dime isn’t the best thing since sliced bread. Among the gems in his column

He’s an outsider and can’t possibly know how much our pride and ego is worth.

Worse, he’s an American. He can’t know anything about hockey. Background knowledge in this case can’t possibly count for anything.

Thanks for the warm welcome to town, John. I don’t really feel at home somewhere until I have been pilloried in the local press by a sports columnist. It lets me know I’m still doing my job.

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