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"Caught Stealing"

That's the title of a briefing paper by Dennis Coates and Brad R. Humphreys, just published by the Cato Institute. The paper focuses on the public subsidy for the new baseball stadium in DC. Money quote: "Baseball's protracted decision-making process as it mulled over the relative merits of various locations ... was a classic exercise in concession extraction by a monopoly sports league."

Perhaps the best part of the paper is its critique of the political rhetoric which politicians use to promote the subsidy. Consider this claim by Mayor Williams:

"the ballpark will be 100% financed by the team owners, those who use the ballpark, and by DC's largest businesses ... our residents will not be asked to pay one dime of tax dollars toward this ballpark."

Coates and Humphreys brilliantly expose the fallacy, indeed the lie in that statement. They also discuss their research, which documents that bringing a sports club to town is not the economic bonanza it is purported to be.

Given the timeliness of the topic and the quality of the presentation, this report goes directly on the reading list for my students. If you are interested in this issue, it belongs on your list too.

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