Sports Stadiums Cost Taxpayers $10B More than Forecasted in 2010


Sports stadium expert and Harvard University urban planning professor Judith Grant Long is publishing a new book shedding new light on the mammoth costs of sports stadiums to the public. In 2010, taxpayers ended up paying about $10 billion (!) more for professional sports stadiums than was originally forecasted.

From a Bloomberg review of Long’s new book:

The costs of land, infrastructure, operations and lost property taxes add 25 percent to the taxpayer bill for the 121 sports facilities in use during 2010, increasing the average public cost by $89 million to $259 million, up from $170 million commonly reported by the sports industry and media, she writes in the book “Public/Private Partnerships for Major League Sports Facilities.”

The most egregious examples of fleecing taxpayers? Some of the same stadiums we’ve talked about at Sports Fans Coalition:

The highest-cost deals include Indianapolis’s Lucas Oil Stadium, where the National Football League’s Colts play; Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, home of the Bengals; and the Milwaukee Brewers’ Miller Park in baseball. In those cases, the public share of costs, once ongoing expenses are included, exceeds 100 percent of the building’s original price tag.

The stadiums with the highest public cost in 2010 dollars tend to be built for football and baseball, at about $480 million each, in part because those are more expensive buildings than basketball or hockey arenas, which cost about $170 million, Long writes.

Long’s book is more of an academic research book than an easy read, but if you want to check it out, here you go:  “Public/Private Partnerships for Major League Sports Facilities.”

Sports fans everywhere owe Long a big THANK YOU for her willingness to expose the dirty business of stadium financing in such detail.

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