There have long been two absolutes about sports stadiums, at least when built in America’s big cities. The first is the willingness of public officials to subsidize them, using hundreds of millions in taxpayer money to build monoliths that will supposedly spur jobs and redevelopment. The other is the substantial economic literature claiming that such benefits never materialize enough to justify the handout. In the last dozen years these notions have collided, as cities like Cincinnati, Detroit, and Miami have continued with the status quo, and funded new stadiums, while others, rather than bowing to billionaire owners, have watched their sports teams flee. The way Atlanta addressed its own stadium issues this year strengthened the dichotomy.
Like most residents of New England, I spent Sunday night watching football. However, unlike most residents of New England, most of my attention was not focused on the Patriots and the Broncos. Given how badly the Pats played in the first half, it was probably just as well that I missed that portion of the proceedings, as they were losing 24-0 at the half. (I did finally tune in early in the fourth quarter right before the Pats took the lead before winning 34-31 in OT on a field goal by Steve Gostkowski.)