Football stadiums create jobs (on eight Sundays a year)

Travis Waldron of Think Progress reports on five cities considering public funding for new sports stadiums.

I’m all in favor of public funding for sports stadiums, but only when the public owns a stake in the team. Otherwise it’s a taxpayer subsidy of a private company that doesn’t need taxpayers’ help.

The worst offenders in Waldron’s article are Miami and Charlotte, who are considering funding for football stadiums.

The NFL has a 16-game regular season. That means eight home games. Eight. So yes, it’s true that public funding for a new football stadium helps to create jobs, but it helps to create jobs for eight days out of the year.

The job-creation argument is at least semi-plausible for a baseball stadium, which promises 81 or so home games every year. But eight days of job creation isn’t enough to justify public investment.

For the price of a football stadium you can build two libraries, each of which will employ people year-round and not just on eight Sundays.

* * * * * * * * *

Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee says there’s no need for an increase in the minimum wage, since she never struggled back when she was earning a minimum wage of only $2.15 an hour.

Trouble is, she forgot about that old debbil inflation, and didn’t seem to realize the $2.15 an hour she was getting paid in that worker’s paradise of Mississippi would in today’s dollars be worth significantly more than the wage Obama is calling for now. Even the minimum wage of $1.60 in 1968-70 was the equivalent of $10.56 today. So Blackburn was inadvertently making Obama’s point for him.

* * * * * * * * *

John Kasich, the Republican governor of Ohio, is pushing a tax plan that would cut taxes for the wealthy while raising them for the poor.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because the same idea is being pushed by Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Republican legislators in North Carolina, Republican Gov. Dave Heineman of Nebraska, and Republican Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas.

This is the redistribution of wealth. But these folks are perfectly fine with redistribution, as long as the Sheriff of Nottingham is in charge of it.

* * * * * * * * *

“Wow, this guy buys right into the deficit-scold mentality without really doing his homework: another leader who should know better is taking his cues straight from the GOP playbook.”

It is, indeed, perplexing to see someone obtusely complaining that insurance benefits the sick more than the healthy.

But in a sense he has done his homework. He has asked what it is that he must say in order to be initiated into the Sacred Order of Very Serious Persons. And then, as instructed, he has said it.


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  • Didn’t those Republican governors think to look to Bob Riley?

  • Buck Eschaton

    Kasich just wants to make people debt slaves. He wants hyperdeflation. He wants the 99% to work harder for an ever shrinking amount of money. He wants foreclosures, student loan defaults, credit card defaults. They want us buried in debt, so that our only choice is to do their evil bidding.
    Federal taxes are not redistribution. When money is taxed by the federal government it is simply destroyed, it is not given to someone else.
    Kasisch isn’t worried about the 99% defaulting on loans, his clients won’t be hurt, they’ll be bailed out, and they’ll get to take our collateral. The 99% are the only ones hurt in Kasich’s deflationary scenario.
    We need a massive Jubilee, massive liquidity injections in the households of America. I’m thinking at least 50k or more for every man, woman and child, up to 250K or more per family.

  • Huh?

    Building a stadium would employ people for more than eight Sundays…it would employ people throughout the construction process.
    I’m not even saying this to advocate, I just have no idea why you left this part of it out, as I think those are the jobs they’re referring to, not the ones post-construction.

  •  I’m not even saying this to advocate, I just have no idea why you left
    this part of it out, as I think those are the jobs they’re referring to,
    not the ones post-construction.

    You know what else would create jobs during construction?  A library, a school, or a bridge that’s not on the verge of collapse…

  • Yes, but the construction jobs are, by their nature, temporary. If you want the best downstream effect you want the jobs in the structure to be semipermanent. Ergo, a library or a school, not a stadium.

  • P J Evans

     Most of those jobs are temporary (construction) or low-paying (almost everything else).
    Also, the team owners (and the league) don’t seem to believe that they owe the public anything in return. Some of the proposals I’ve seen in LA would have the public funding the work, while getting NO revenue back, even from non-sports uses.

  • Buck Eschaton

    But with the library, school, transportation, infrastructure, and etc. projects the 99% will see this money. Infrastructure projects will be owned by the state. Under no conditions can the 99% be invested in. With stadiums the profits can be easily privatized. Stadiums only make a small group spectacularly wealthy, this is what is wanted.  The 99% do not need infrastructure, what they need to be OK with is spectacular concentrations of wealth, what they need to understand is that they need to be OK with rapidly lowering incomes and seeing what they own and built sold to the 0.01%.

  • I don’t disagree in the least, at all (and other things that clarify this is not qualified).

    It just reads like those 8 days a year are the only jobs it will ever create at all:

    But eight days of job creation isn’t enough to justify public investment.

    There’s no “X years and 8 days a year thereafter…which is not as good as X years and 350 days a year thereafter”, it’s just “eight days”, which isn’t actually true.

    That’s all I’m saying–not that it makes building stadiums a good or great goal, or an okay goal, or just-as-good, or the jobs are good or okay–or, well, anything else. Just that it feels disingenuous as phrased.

  • Jurgan

    Don’t most stadiums get used for other events when not used by the team?  Aren’t they often hosts to other community events?  Not that that’s necessarily an argument for investment, as there are plenty of more productive targets.

  • Carstonio

    I wouldn’t object to public money for a stadium if the facility itself was publicly owned and simply leased to the team, with a full schedule of entertainment events during the off-season. But I doubt any team would accept such terms. The reality is that teams either move to cities that promise to build stadiums, or else extort stadiums from their current cities by using the threat of relocation. 

  • Build up the infrastructure in any way? In Florida? Even the physical infrastructure? Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

    If I sound hysterical, it’s because I live in the damned place.

  • Yes. Especially basketball arenas, which are smaller and indoors. This is the calendar for my local arena, which is actually emptier than most because it’s A)not central to the population center B) in a small market and C) pretty run down (which is why Sacramento is proposing using public funds to build a new arena, well, that and to hopefully keep the Kings around).

  • Also, while, yes, perhaps the stadium only directly employs people on 8 days out of the year (well, probably closer to 20, at least), the presence of a major sports franchise has an economic benefit to a region beyond just the days where stadium employees are employed.

  • Third, how many people does a library employ? According to this it’s an average of about 27 full time equivalent (FTE) employees per library, so 54 FTE employees in 2 libraries. Lucas Oil stadium (opened in 2008) employs 2800 people. Even assuming that EVERY employee only works 8 days per year, that’s 86 FTE employees.

  • Foreigner

    Anyone in need of a stadium please apply to B. Johnson, County Hall, London WC1. He’s got one going cheap that fell off the back of an Olympics.

  • Lucas Oil stadium (opened in 2008) employs 2800 people. Even assuming that EVERY employee only works 8 days per year, that’s 86 FTE employees.

    Go ahead and share your paycheck with 31 other people for a year, then come let us know how that FTE job is working for y’all.

    Anyway, I tried doing a little quickie research on the economic benefits of pro sports stadiums you mentioned. How many articles showing the lack of benefits should I skip over to get to the more desirable results?

  • And how regular are the stadium-worker paychecks compared to the library-worker paychecks? Hmm?

  • Well, you’re right, as far as one person’s full time employment, a library will provide more workers with full time jobs. A stadium will put more money into a local economy.

  • Do you have evidence to back up your claim that stadiums put more money into the local economy than they take out of it? 

  • Random_Lurker

    Sacramento has been dealing with the Maloof’s (NBA team owners) for several years, trying to negotiate terms for a new arena.  Note, that this arena doubles as a concert, play, you name it venue when not used for games.  They’ve even started financed preliminary development of an unused railyard for the site.  The city will pay for the site development, but not the arena.  Reasonable, IMO.

    The Maloof clan, however, wants none of it, and have been trying to blackmail the city into paying for the whole kiboodle by trying to sell the team to other cities.  It’s quite hilarious (and sad) to watch, since other cities aren’t wiling to outright pay for a private business’s new digs either.  And so the wheel turns and nobody gets ahead. Sigh.

    On a side note, with the budget cut nonsense this week, isn’t it high time for another post about how government economies and household economies aren’t the same?  GOP economics is equivalent to quitting your job in order to lower the bills, and nobody in the media is bothering to point it out anymore.

  • AJG

    The NFL has a 16-game regular season. That means eight home games. Eight.
    C’mon!  You forgot about the two preseason games!

  • Random_Lurker

     If it’s like my local NBA stadium, it hires through the IATSE union, and gives roughly  a week’s worth of work to about 50 people per month.  That’s 50 person-weeks, mind you, not actually a week each for 50 people.   I used to work for the Local, and I’ll admit that getting 4 hours pay, for 2 hours of work, at $22/hr is a pretty sweet contract.  Only getting called in for 4 hours once every 3 months, because there’s 500 union members and only enough work for 50, is not such a good deal.

  • histrogeek

    Years ago, when Soldier Field was up for renovation (, there was the usual slapfest  by the Bears. They threatened to go out to the suburbs because they weren’t feeling the love (in the form of buckets of public money to build Thunderdome) in town. The breakdown of the public debate with Mayor Daley (the Second):

    Bears owner: We need free cash because otherwise we don’t have enough butts in [corporate skybox] seats to pay a good team.
    Richard II:  We aren’t going to give you money for eight games a year.
    Bears owner: Big meanie. We are awesome [Note: They weren’t]. You’ll hear from your constituents when we leave.
    Richard II: Oh, did you know “Chicago Bears” is trademarked by the city? You move and you need to be the Schaumburg Bears, cause you don’t get to use our fair city’s name. Once we find a new team who wants to be in the number 3 media market, you can be the Schaumburg Whining D-Bags. If you want, we’ll give you some cash to stick a giant salad bowl in the old facade. You raise the rest.
    Bears owner: Noooo, we can’t raise the rest; that’s unfair. The Park District (who actually own the stadium) uses the stadium more than us. We’re only there eight games a year. (Seriously they did point out how infrequently they were there, once it was clear they weren’t getting Thunderdome or the city wouldn’t pay the whole bill.) Whine, whine, whine, here’s the check.
    Chicago residents, once the thing was build: What the hell did they just do to Soldier Field? That’s hyper-fugly. There may need to be new words in architecture just to explain how awful that looks.

    Richard II came out ahead because despite the assertion of the team, they really couldn’t take their ball and leave.  As far as economic benefit, it’s a big meh. The construction jobs help, the rest depends a lot how the space is used when there isn’t a game. The real question is whether the benefits to the public outweigh the cost. However, football teams clearly don’t think that they can profitably run a stadium on eight games; otherwise they wouldn’t endlessly blackmail cities into giving them arenas (and leave if they don’t get their way).

  • I shouldn’t have said “economic benefit”, since, as you point out, it’s slim to nonexistent. The research outlined here, however, shows that a sports franchise likely provides a boost in an area’s “quality of life” that may make public investment worth it.

  • AJG

    I’m all in favor of public funding for sports stadiums, but only when the public owns a stake in the team. Otherwise it’s a taxpayer subsidy of a private company that doesn’t need taxpayers’ help.

    This is why the Green Bay Packers are the greatest franchise in sports (even though I am not personally a fan).

  • In addition to living in Sacramento, I’m also a huge Kings fan, and this isn’t QUITE the whole story. The Maloofs are completely broke (well, at least as far as sports franchise owners are concerned), and they’ve wanted to get out of Sacramento for a while. They sold the Kings to people who will move them to Seattle without even contacting potential buyers who would keep the team in Sacramento (and there are some, they will be speaking with the NBA’s Board of Governors in a couple of months as part of a bid to keep the team in Sacramento).

    As far as their stadium proposal, they wanted A) to pay nothing, B) to get a significant portion of the parking revenue and C) not have to sign a lease to keep the team in the city until the stadium is paid off. EVERY party involved in the negotiations (The City of Sacramento, AEG – arena operators who would operate the arena for non-Kings events, and the freaking NBA) agreed that Sacramento’s proposal was fair.

  • The research outlined here, however, shows that a sports franchise likely provides a boost in an area’s “quality of life” that may make public investment worth it.  

    Compared to the boost in quality of life that a library brings? There’s no way. And a library doesn’t entail ripping up tons of land and creating massive amounts of congestion and drunk driving and noise.

  • Ok, now it’s your turn for evidence. Do you have any for “a library generates at least 1/2 of the quality of life boost of a sports franchise”?

    The only claim I made re: Stadiums vs. Libraries was that a stadium would put more $ into the local economy in the form of worker salaries, which was what Fred’s claim was about in the first place.

  • Rhubarbarian82

    Yeah, here Lakers fans boost LA’s “quality of life” by rioting and setting cars on fire. It’s great. Once we were lucky enough to get riots from two groups of sports fans in one week.*
    Then there’s the wide swath I have to cut around Dodger stadium if I need to get downtown and there’s a baseball game going. The added traffic snarls sure do boost our quality of life.Seriously, fuck pro sports and their corporate warfare.

    *E3 ran the same week, the nerds didn’t riot like the basketball and the soccer fans. I guess it’s just games and not video games that make their fans violent.

  • Random_Lurker

     Well, thanks for the latest update.  I’ve given up on following the sordid affair, and just shake my head whenever I see it’s still popping up in the news.  “Give up and get on with it” is the only thing that comes to mind, so I admit I havn’t been reading any of the recent stuff.

  • For a further update, if they stay, the arena will be at Downton Plaza instead of the Railyards, and will likely require a smaller public investment.

  • Tell me about it. We’ve got two stadiums side-by-side here in the Lower Mainland of BC and all they do every major sporting event is create unbelievable congestion that spills into the strangest of places.

    One time I was trying to drive* in to a late shift and somehow I ran into this incredible traffic jam down – Arbutus street? I think. ARBUTUS? At TEN P.M.?

    What the actual FUCK.

    There was some major event downtown, and it was letting out around that time and of course, would you believe it, somehow people decided Arbutus, of all streets, was the way to go if you wanted to get to the West Side.


    * My car recently overheated for which no radiator fluid leak could be found, so it looks like I won't be doing much more driving. Alas.

  • Random_Lurker

     Look for air intake in the coolant- a loose hose clamp, leaky vacuum hose, etc.  If the coolant (or oil) is foamy, it’s a sure sign of air in the coolant which will guaruntee an overheat.  Many mecahnics will miss this- took me ages to track it down in my car, and it turned out that triming 1/2 an inch off a old hose and replacing the clamp was all the fix it needed.

    Barring that, and barring a leak, it’s probably in the fuel/air mixture system, which is an unholy PITA to find in todays computerized cars.

  • Well, I asked for a rad fluid flush/change, and I plan to have an oil change soon, so between those two I hope whatever needed fixing cheaply got fixed.

    The fluid looks the usual kind of ucky green, not white, as I would expect if oil was mixing in due to the head gasket.

  • MaryKaye

    My bitterness about the stadiums in Seattle is that, each time, they have been sold to voters with promises of also funding support for local sports fields and other athletic facilities that actually allow more than a tiny handful of professionals to *play* sports.  But when the cost overruns or needs for maintenance hit, the big stadiums get the money, not the park fields where people can actually play. I like athletics fine  but I dislike the model of a few players and millions of spectators.

    Looking at the stadiums’ web sites suggests that CenturyLink Field (aka QWest aka Seahawks Stadium) does host a lot of events other than soccer and football including trade shows and dog shows.  (Probably those are in the attached building and not the field itself.)  Safeco Plaza, the baseball stadium, shows no sign of having any other use except that its banquet facilities can be rented out.

    Did they improve the economy?  I don’t have the data.  Do they improve quality of life?  I suppose, but I can’t see that it’s proportional to the huge amount they cost.  Do I like having our city recurrently blackmailed by team owners?  NO.  Did I appreciate the manuver where the state put stadium funding up for public vote, got a No, and then decided it was just a referendum on that particular funding method and went ahead with a (non-voted-on) tax-based method?  NOT AT ALL.  A plague on both their stadiums, that’s what I think.

    I am also concerned by what I learned as a member of the Faculty Senate at a public university, namely that my university has 40-odd sports teams, and all but two have good graduate rates, safety records, and are generally a credit to the institution.  But the other two (men’s basketball, men’s football) pull in all of the money, and so we “have no choice” but to tolerate their poor graduation records, dubious recruiting techniques, and other severe problems.

    I get why people like to root for their city team, and like that team to be good and successful.  But when this plays out on the scale of modern society it can have really evil consequences.  Why are football teams so notorious for rape cases?  Why is the horrendous permanent-injury rate for football players tolerated?  It’s the money.

    Many years ago someone decided to encourage lower-ranked chessplayers, so instead of having tiny prizes for “best D player” there would be BIG prizes.  It had ruinous effects on the sport, because it encouraged weird unsporting behavior like falsifying your rating, and meant in practice that no D player would ever again win any prizes at all (they were all won by high-ranked players with falsified ratings).  I don’t think money is the root of all evil but put too much in one place and it sure can look like the root of all evil.

    Or in other words, even if the stadiums do bring in money, what is the non-monetary price, and do we really want to pay that?

  • “Did they improve the economy?  I don’t have the data.  Do they improve quality of life?  I suppose, but I can’t see that it’s proportional to the huge amount they cost.”

    The paper I linked argued that the improvement in QoL required to make stadiums worth public investment is equivalent to about one extra sunny day per year.

  • aunursa

    Then there’s the wide swath I have to cut around Dodger stadium if I need to get downtown and there’s a baseball game going. The added traffic snarls sure do boost our quality of life.

    The city of Los Angeles should create better public transportation options to Dodger Stadium.  Fans in the Bay Area can take mass transit to AT&T Park, the home of the World Series Champion San Francisco Giants, from five counties.

  • Rhubarbarian82

    Personally, I’d prioritize connecting the Green Line to LAX, but yes. Yes, we should. Villaraigosa has actually done a pretty decent job of expanding public transportation and bike lanes, but there’s still a lot more to be done. We voted to raise our taxes with measure R to pay for more transit in 2008, but measure J failed last year because it “only” received 64.72% approval.

    At least we’ve been smart enough not to bother trying to bribe the NFL back here.

  • mud man

    Private vs. public ownership is one issue, but ownership is ownership. How about spending your Sports Stadium Bucks on places the public can actually use, in the sense of get out and run around on. AYSO soccer fields, Babe Ruth baseball parks, open gym basketball courts. NFL teams don’t actually NEED a stadium, most everybody watches it on TV anyway.

  • Narcissus

    My limited understanding of capitalism is that is extracts more out of the worker than it pays back, creating a surplus value for the owner. Capitalism is also always revolutionizing, often at a faster pace than its critics and opponents care to admit. 

    The ‘fund a stadium’ game works for the capitalist because it extracts more out of the community than it gives back and if you complain, as a community, well, they will just play the game in a new city. One more enlightened to the ways of business than your (now) backwater village.When you take the surplus (the gains from reducing wages given to workers) and store it towards upper management and investors, you eventually need to relocate to where the buying power moves to. A stadium is wealth extraction. A dome sized vacuum cleaner with extra attachments that say things like, “Bieber coming” and “monster truck bonanza”. They sell it you through “downtown revitalization” and the revenue and jobs such a stimulus project will effect. But the gears of capitalism favor those who own the means, i.e the gears people. And as Fred has made wonderfully clear, how can you justify building a stadium, when the sewer pipes, water lines, electrical grid, roads and schools leading to the stadium are in disrepair. If job creation and community rejuvenation are your answers, Fred has your question. Why not repair the infrastructure?  

  • stardreamer42

    Oh, really? In what way(s) do you think that happens?

  • stardreamer42

    That’s exactly the argument used about casinos. Funny thing about that — the money ends up being siphoned out of state to whatever megacorp runs the casino. Very little of it goes into the local economy, and at the same time the cost of things like food, housing, and staple goods goes up to “soak the tourist” levels (never mind that the tourists rarely leave the casino) while any jobs that happen to be created are minimum-wage service positions at best, sub-minimum-wage “you’ll make it up in tips” jobs at worst. I live down here in casino-land and have seen this happen all across southern Louisiana and Mississippi. You’ll have a hard time convincing me that a velvet-lined sports palace will work any differently.

  • My limited understanding of capitalism is that is extracts more out of
    the worker than it pays back, creating a surplus value for the owner

    That is certainly Marx’s interpretation. A capitalist interpretation is that capital itself causes the worker to be more productive than they would be otherwise, and therefore that “surplus” rightfully “belongs” to the person who provided the capital.

    I have it on good authority that at some point in the past, it may even have actually worked that way, before evolving into a kind of complex protection racket involving capitalists saying “That’s some real nice means of production you’ve got there. Be a real shame if something were to ‘happen’ to it.”

    (To be entirely fair, in comparison to Mercantilism, Capitalism makes a metric fuckload more sense and is way more fair and equitable.)

    ETA: Gfy, Disqus v. Patheos. Gfy.

  • Narcissus

    Hey Ross,Mercantilism maintains dominance not by best serving a market, but by best serving a market it creates.I have it on good authority that we are all mercantilists now. : )In a truly capitalist system, one would have to aspire to aspirational goods.  The system is short circuited; one can afford those goods without actually possessing the status or wealth that ownership implies. Stadium anyone?Capitalism identifies a market and then tries to maximize profit within it.  Mercantilism creates markets on purpose based on what it has to offer, and then controls those markets. At least it seems to me.

  • A place that takes up little land and where people can go to borrow books, movies, and in some places even video games for free. A place in which people can meet to discuss various topics, and which has lots of events for the public and children. A place that helps very many authors throughout the country make a decent, though not large, living. A place near which most people want to live. A place that gives everyone equal access to knowledge and the tools of education, not to mention the internet.

    Versus a place that tears up a massive amount of land, exists solely for the profit of those who are already wealthy, near which no one wants to live if they can possibly help it, which increases traffic congestion through the roof, which necessitates tearing up MORE land, and which never has anything for the community for free. 

    Come on, seriously? 

  •  At a fundamental level, the mercantile system is based on the idea of “send my labor out to go get money, and bring it back to me, where I will sit on top of it”, whereas capitalism is based on the idea of “send my money out to go cross-breed with some labor, and instead of bringing their money-progeny back to me to sit on, send that money out to repeat the cycle ad infinitum”

    “We are all mercantilists now” is an idea with some truth to it, but really, you can’t do Mercantilism without a vast “Out there” outside of the system where you can send people to go dig up money.

  • P J Evans

     Dodger Stadium (and Staples Center) are good examples of why you don’t want stadiums downtown.
    For the proposed football stadium, they keep saying ‘but games are  going to be on Sunday and there’s no traffic downtown on Sunday’. They’ve never driven past there on a day when something’s going on, or they’d effing well know better.

  • P J Evans


  • P J Evans

     As one of my friends says, the advantage of not having an NFL team in LA is that there are a lot fewer blackouts.

  • Could be. I didn’t find out if the shop that did the rad fluid change also swapped the thermo, ’cause the guy I talked to when I went to pay for the work wasn’t the same one who DID the work. (-_-)

    I’m pretty much done, though. Once the insurance’s expired, car’s gonna be so SOLD.