Earlier this week Richard posted on movie production incentives as a development tool. This weekend’s WSJ has an interesting editorial by Jerry Bowyer investigating NFL Conference Championship teams Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Baltimore’s use of stadium centric development in recent years. (The Arizona Cardinals, based in the Phoenix-metro, is the fourth team playing this weekend.)
From the Op-Ed, Sports Mania Is a Poor Substitute for Economic Success;
“If there ever was a time to crow about the wonders of rebuilding a city around a professional sports team, this would be it. Three of the four teams remaining in the play-offs hail from cities — Baltimore, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh — that in recent years spent billions rebuilding their downtowns around pro sports facilities and other community “anchors.”
Except that there’s a problem. The teams might be competitive, but the cities definitely are not. All three continue to shrink in population, and have stagnant job markets and crumbling public schools.”
“When the Steelers were in the Super Bowl in 2006 I was the host of a radio show in Pittsburgh. I argued that the franchise was an exercise in leadership excellence in a city whose politicians were anything but. Numerous callers hammered me. They said there are a lot of “Steelers” bars across the country, and that proved the city still had some national respect. Indeed, there are hundreds of watering holes dispersed across America loaded with fanatical devotes of the Pittsburgh Steelers. “Where are the Seahawks bars?” the callers asked.
In Seattle, of course. That city has gained population while Pittsburgh lost it. Steelers bars are the visible cultural artifact of a kind of economic diaspora.”
I am a huge sports fan and appreciate many of the new stadiums across the country and know the record is mixed – look at the benefits of the privately financed Verizon Center in D.C’s China Town. Clearly the devil is in the financing details and the overall balance of the regional economy as to whether stadiums help or hurt economic success.