Last month, the state of Nevada gave the Oakland A’s $380 million dollars in taxpayer money to go towards a brand-new ballpark in Las Vegas. The hope is to possibly open the ballpark by 2018.
This week, the Nevada State Education Association launched a campaign to try and find any legal way to stop the Oakland A’s from getting any public funding, including litigation. The campaign started a political action committee called Schools Over Stadiums.
The anger from the teachers seems quite understandable. Why did the A’s jump over one of the most important professions in the country? The state has an insane amount of teacher vacancies due to poor funding.
“Marks said his organization is concerned about the more than 3,000 statewide vacancies for teachers and educational staff and is outraged that a stadium is being presented as a financial benefit for the people of Nevada.” – Los Angeles Times, 06/29/23
Then the other day, the Las Vegas Review-Journal went after these teachers for their political action committee. According to the newspaper, the teachers are simply “blinded by its misguided opposition”. I was interested to see what the newspaper was going to show as to why the teachers were wrong.
Instead, the paper uses the same arguments that have been disproven numerous times. Like what? Well, according to the newspaper:
“The presence of the A’s will benefit for the entire community…a new stadium will increase tourism…more tourism will boost the economy…a growing economy will provide the additional tax dollars the union desires.” – Las Vegas Review-Journal Editorial, 09/07/2023
First, these are the EXACT arguments used by sports owners in so many cities. Over the last decade, we have seen Wichita, Kansas pay for and build a new arena and ballpark based on the promise of increased tourism and therefore increased revenues. None of which happened. In fact, the ballpark still isn’t built yet and is scheduled maybe to start late next year?
In Charlotte, does anyone remember when the city spent millions of taxpayer dollars on the NASCAR Hall of Fame? It would attract almost a million new people every year! Well, let me show you the title of one story written about it more recently…“The NASCAR Hall Of Fame Has Been A Financial Disaster For Charlotte”.
Please remember that last year, Charlotte gave their NBA team $250 million in taxpayer dollars for renovations to the Spectrum Arena and a new practice facility. Since tourism tax dollars collected by the city “must be spent on projects to support the city’s tourism economy”, I bet these changes made downtown Charlotte a tourist dream!
Second, how many studies must be done to show people that a city’s finances will not be substantially changed from a team getting a new sports home?
“Little evidence exists in economics journals on the impact of sporting events and concerts on local economic outcomes related to tourism” — Sports-Led Tourism, Spatial Displacement, and Hotel Demand, Chikish-Humphreys-Liu-Nowak, WEAI.com
“A new sports facility has an extremely small effect on overall economic activity and employment. No recent facility appears to have earned anything approaching a reasonable return on investment. No recent facility has been self-financing in terms of its impact on net tax revenues…the economic benefits of sports facilities are de minimus… Sports facilities attract neither tourists nor new industry” — Sports, Jobs & Taxes: Are New Stadiums Worth The Cost?, Zimbalist-Noll, Brookings.com
“If you listen to city boosters and officials, there’s nothing stadiums can’t do. They attract out-of-town guests who come to the city and pay big bucks. A stadium is an economic engine that will draw in tourist dollars and increase standards of living in a city and the surrounding area… Except that it’s not. In a recent study of hotel occupancy trends in Charlotte published in the Economic Inquiry, the economists found that while some events mean big increases in hotel stays, other events don’t really matter” — Art Carden, Forbes.com
I will grant to the other side that a city without a major league franchise will see an increase in visitors when the new team shows up. I understand why Las Vegas is happy about the tourism numbers of the Raiders home field.
But when you hand over almost $400 million dollars in taxpayer money to a baseball team or $750 million to a football team, this tourism increase better be record-breaking beyond all previous sports relocations.
Las Vegas is not going to see $750 million in new money from the Raiders…ever. They won’t see the A’s coming even close to putting $400 million new dollars in the city’s wallet.