Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Money for Sports Sites Doesn't Add Up

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Money for Sports Sites Doesn't Add Up

Article excerpt

Byline: Tonyaa Weathersbee

State Rep. Frank Artiles is right to be skeptical.

Recently Artiles, a Miami Republican who heads the state House Economic Development & Tourism Committee, said he still has problems with taxpayer money being used on sports stadiums.

According to the Times-Union, Artiles expressed those doubts after the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity decided that three stadiums - EverBank Field, Sun Life Stadium in Miami-Dade County and the Daytona International Speedway - qualify for state sales tax money.

And echoing Artiles, State Rep. Richard Corcoran, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, has said he hasn't changed his opposition to giving sales-tax dollars to sports ventures.

Both lawmakers have it right.

NO COMPELLING CASE

Naturally, Florida's economic development department has tried to make the idea of splurging state sales taxes on stadiums more palatable by suggesting legislators simply set pay-for-performance standards measures and sanctions.

And Cissy Proctor, the department's executive director, noted that while the projects have provided estimated investment returns ranging from $2.22 for every $1 for the Daytona Speedway to 91 cents per $1 for EverBank Field, those numbers surely understate the real value Florida is generating by supporting sports venues.

But in reality, the underwhelming estimates are probably pretty accurate.

In 1997, Brookings Institute economists Roger Noll and Andrew Zimbalist wrote a book titled "Sports, Jobs & Taxes: Are New Stadiums Worth the Cost?"

In it, the authors examined case studies on the effects of sports facilities in various communities.

What they found was pretty damning.

"In every case, the conclusions are the same," the authors wrote.

"A new sports facility has an extremely small (and perhaps even negative) effect on overall economic activity and employment. …

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