Economist: No economic benefit to stadiums, but they’re so purty!

Yet another economist points out that the academic literature on stadium subsidies concurs that economic benefits are a load of hooey:

“Economists — except for those who have a vested interest — pretty much cannot really find a benefit/cost analysis to support a publicly financed stadium, to the state or the government interest that pays for it,” said [Joe] Friedrich, a St. Cloud resident and professor emeritus of economics at St. John’s University and the College of St. Benedict (he retired 18 months ago).

“On the standpoint of strictly economic costs to the state, I literally can’t find a study that comes up with a positive return.”

Friedrich does acknowledge that “there are things in life that are not really easily translated into dollars and cents,” and says that the Minnesota Vikings “do contribute to the spirit of the state.” Yet he notes that you can put a dollar value on that as well if you try hard enough, by resorting to “environmental economics,” which can figure out how much citizens are willing to pay for a certain non-monetary benefit (such as cleaner air or water). And while he didn’t put a dollar amount on this, economist Bruce Johnson of Kentucky’s Centre College did a few years back, and came up with a figure of between $23 and $48 million dollars, which needless to say is a heck of a lot less than the Vikings are asking for.

3 comments on “Economist: No economic benefit to stadiums, but they’re so purty!

  1. Best part of the St. Cloud Times’ article:

    “Sid Hartman once commented that without the Vikings, Minneapolis would be a cold Omaha,” Friedrich said. “Well, Omaha was just listed as one of the 10 best places in the world to live.”

  2. Good point George, but you can’t tell that to a Vikings fan because they’re focused on one thing. You can run the state into ground ($6.2 billion deficit), but as long as they get Sunday football, all is well. I think the the Governor and legislature are more fearful of taking away football than any of the cuts they will have to make in government services. Looking forward to making Minneapolis a cold(er) Detroit.

  3. George:

    Does that mean that the Vikings are the only thing keeping Minneapolis out of the top ten?