There was big ol’ conference at Marquette Law School yesterday to discuss whether a new Milwaukee Bucks stadium would be worth it (you can watch the video here), which prompted a report by Milwaukee’s Legislative Reference Bureau that concluded that public funding of sports facilities doesn’t have a positive economic effect. And so what did the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which co-sponsored the conference, take away from the event?
According to sports economist Andrew Zimbalist of Smith College, the majority of long-term economic studies show that building a new arena will not have a positive economic impact.
But, as usual, there is a caveat, Zimbalist told attendees at a sports arena conference on Monday at Marquette University’s Law School.
He said there are situations in every city that can provide benefits because of the way the financing is determined or the way the local economy works. There also may be positive economic spinoffs if there is economic development nearby.
Zimbalist also pointed out that, over the last 30 years, the financing split to build a new arena generally has been 65% public financing and 35% private financing.
And then Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce president Tim Sheehy announced that he hoped the conference would lead to a task force to discuss a new Bucks arena, because that’s what he always says.
So arena subsidies are almost always a bad idea, but there might be exceptions. And anyway, so long as everybody else is doing it, what the hell, why not?