Sign in / Join

Stadium discussion

There's more from this piece in the WSJ, but most of the details focus on the Nationals' new digs in D.C. The conclusion:

In defending the city's decision, Councilman Brown points out that on the same day the City Council approved funding for the stadium, it also earmarked $1 billion to upgrade D.C. schools, including $58 million for a new high school for construction trades and architectural design. And under terms of the deal, the city expects to see about $40 million a year in revenue. The smallest portion will come from the team, which is supposed to pay $5.5 million a year in rent. But just this week the Nationals began withholding payments, saying the city had failed to "complete" the stadium.

The vast majority of income is expected to come from the same people who financed the stadium: the taxpayers. An estimated $14 million a year is projected from taxes on tickets, concessions and merchandise. Another $24 million will come from a new stadium tax on D.C. businesses with gross revenues of $3 million or more. Indeed, with the exception of some housing and small businesses that have moved into the neighborhood, the vast majority of the "development" in Southeast is nothing more than taxpayer-funded public works projects.

So in the end, what did the taxpayers get other than a bill for $611 million? The Washington National's Web site advertises jobs for elevator operators, fan ambassadors and security guards. The pay is $7.50-$8.50 an hour.

One quibble with the accounting: the $38 million in ticket taxes and the stadium tax on big businesses is, for the most part, paid by baseball consumers and beneficiaries. It is not obvious to me why taxes are viewed as preferable to higher ticket and luxury box prices, but this is a substitution in form and not substance.