Cities want football teams. Owners want stadiums.
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In the past 20 years, over $7 billion in public money has gone towards financing the construction and renovation of NFL football stadiums. Owners argue that public investment in private football franchises will bring a boom of economic activity to local economies. But this argument doesn’t hold up. In reality, stadiums and their upkeep wind up costing cities millions of dollars.
For owners, new stadiums mean more profits. They get to host the Super Bowl, sell naming rights to other corporations, and build increasingly opulent and expensive premium seating.
For cities, nabbing an itinerant football franchise looking for a new home field can be a big political win. And residents want teams and the hometown pride that comes with it. Football teams give cities a sense of identity and they are paying more than ever for them.
New stadiums aren’t the economic powerhouses owners promise they’ll be. But as long there are more cities that want a home team than there are franchises, it looks like taxpayers are going to keep footing the bill.
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