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The economist's manifesto on stadium subsidies

Brad Humphreys, an economist and baseball fan like myself, testified at the DC Committee in Finance and Revenue last summer on the case for funding a baseball stadium in DC. Brad has studied the issue extensively and knows what he's talking about. I recommend reading it all, but here is the bottom line. The figures and location are obviously specific to DC, but the case is general and eloquently made by Brad. One might as well call it the "economist's manifesto on stadium subsidies."

I am not against baseball. I am not opposed to public subsidies for baseball stadiums. I am opposed to public financing for sports facilities on the grounds that they will be engines of economic growth, generating thousands of new jobs and raising the income of taxpayers. The evidence from the academic literature on the economic impact of stadiums overwhelmingly suggests that there will be no net economic benefits from a new stadium. So let this be your guiding question: Is it worth $338 million in tax money spent on a new baseball stadium to incrementally improve the quality of life of the taxpayers, civic pride, and the national image of the District?

And the way to evaluate that question is to compare the benefits of $338 million in stadium spending with $338 million in alternative public investments, including tax relief.