Publicly Funded Sports Stadiums On The Ballot in 2016

by David Grasso, GenFKD

The worlds of sports and politics collide in the debate over the validity of publicly funded sports stadiums.

People often draw parallels between sports and politics, because of their obvious similarities. Once in a blue moon, these two spirited spheres of American life overlap, especially during election season.

Many of us tend to forget that our favorite sports teams’ home venues are often built with public money. In many cases, the authorization to use public funds for the construction of a sports stadium ends up on a ballot, and is subject to the public’s vote.

What happened this election cycle?

This election cycle featured two prominent stadium plans on ballots in Texas and California. In San Diego, voters overwhelmingly rejected a new stadium for the Chargers. Over in Arlington, Texas, voters did the exact opposite, and approved a half billion dollar towards a stadium for the Rangers.

Now these cities will have two very different outcomes: Arlington will likely be the home of the Rangers for years to come, while San Diego might lose the professional football team that’s played there for decades.

The Arlington Mindset

The argument behind publicly funded sports stadiums is that sports teams have an enormous cultural impact. It’s hard to capture the value of having a sports team in your city. Having your own sports team largely amounts to a perpetual advertisement for your city nationwide, while simultaneously ensuring your local citizenry is wildly entertained.

This is the argument that was likely on voters minds in Texas.

Even with these compelling arguments, the cost of such projects is hard to hide. In fact, a local news investigation revealed that the deal in Arlington is slated to cost much more than they’re saying to the public. Also, the Ranger’s stadium isn’t all that old, and there are worries that the city is adding a mountain of debt to their ledgers for a giveaway to a private franchise.

The San Diego Mindset

Voters in San Diego delivered a death blow to new stadium plans largely because of the cost of such a project. The benefits of spending so much public money is also widely disputed. Recent years have seen a wealth of studies that show that stadiums don’t help the local economy as much as supporters claim they do.

Furthermore, private sport teams often scour the country for the best deal possible, and threaten to leave cities when they’re not generous with new….

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