Check out David Sullum's today in which he contemns (subjects to withering contempt) tax-funded stadiums. Yes, many the taxpayer, even those rooting in person for the home team, will say yea to that, what with Reinsdorf and friends getting hundreds of million from Mother Illinois for that new thing at 35th & Shields.
But would it not be better if the goateed, bespectacled, earnest-looking (and well-informed) Sullum, a doughty libertarian, had NOT opened with the damning admission that he has gone just once in his life to a major league game and found it boring? Is there no libertarian editor who could have told him, I know what you mean, but you have friends out there for whom this admission constitutes a self-damning admission of unreliability?
Jacob, don't do it, they would have said. Skip the confession about almost never going to a ball game and being bored when you do. It's not worth it.
That said, Jacob makes hash of the publicly funded stadium, with special attention today to the imminent rise of the baseball Senators. Its 41,000 seats will cost a half billion-plus in public money raised by a new tax on business, that source of all wealth whom we love to hate. Not to worry, says DC Mayor Anthony Williams, 364 new jobs averaging $260,000 will supply the deficit. (But how many of those jobs are popcorn vendors, how many pouty superstars?)
Furthermore, cruddy Anacostia, where the stadium would be built, will rise with the new Senators, or Nationals or whatever. Yes, with baseball-season in-stadium eateries, etc. Stadiums are a bonanza for parking lot owners and people with big back yards they can pave over or rooftops from which paid spectators can watch the game if the team owners have not blocked their view with various devices. And bars to which game-maddened fans can repair afterwards, yes. This is neighborhood revitalization?
80 economists don't think so, Sullum tells us. Nothing notable will come of a new stadium, they told the mayor, who almost certainly pitched their letter forthwith into the nearest spittoon. Spending just moves around, they said, citing "a vast body of economic research." And it normally takes a very strong man to withstand that kind of pressure. In fact, 37 cities were hurt by presence of pro teams 1969-96, according to a Cato Institute paper that had something to say about "significant negative impact on the level of real per capita income." That sort of talk may go with spectacles and goatees and people who don't go to games, but should we ignore it?
Meanwhile, in DC Sullum wonders what other effects there will be, thanks to the expected tax on large businesses (whose owners are outnumbered at the pools by owners of small businesses and owners of no businesses) and its expected lowering of wages and raising of prices.