Last week I interviewed Holy Cross economist Victor Matheson for my article on why the World Cup is a massive money suck that doesn’t return measurable economic benefits; this weekend, Matheson himself has an article up at FiveThirtyEight analyzing which Cup-hosting nations are getting the worst back for their stadium buck, and the unfortunate champion is Brazil:
An initial estimate for Brazil shows a projected SUI [stadium use index, or pro-rated number of capacity crowds per year] that would be among the lowest of recent hosts, with stadiums in Brasília, Manaus, and Cuiabá among the least-used stadiums from any recent World Cup. This poor stadium usage, combined with the highest nominal stadium construction costs of any World Cup, leads to a projected record-high FCI [fan cost index] of over $1,000 of stadium construction costs per fan in attendance in four years.
But really, who can put a price on providing your richest, whitest citizens the ability to go watch international soccer?
The silver lining, Matheson notes, such as it is, is that Russia is already looking to spend $7 billion on stadiums for the 2018 World Cup, a number that will surely rise. And the 2022 Cup is currently scheduled for Qatar, where money (and human life) is no object. So Brazil could end up only holding the record for most money thrown down a hole for four years, or at least eight. Order those “Brazil Stadium Spending World Champions” commemorative t-shirts while you can!