Public cost of Columbus Crew stadium keeps rising, public revenue share still at zero

One of the most confusing parts of calculating stadium subsidy costs is accounting for the present value of future expenses: It’s how F.C. Cincinnati‘s $213 million in taxpayer largesse is really more like $81 million once you factor in that a lot of the spending doesn’t need to take place for decades.

(Note, by the way, that this isn’t directly about inflation: Even if inflation were zero, a dollar spent 30 years from now would still be less of a cost than a dollar spent now, simply because you can put a fraction of a dollar in the bank now and end up with a dollar in three decades.)

Anyway, all of this is to say that when the Columbus Dispatch reports that the public cost of the new Columbus Crew stadium has risen from $115 million to $140 million, it’s important to determine whether this requires an asterisk, if some of that cost is in the future. My previous calculation of the present-value public cost was $88 million; the new total is, per the Dispatch:

  • $28 million in cash payments from the city of Columbus, plus $12 million to build a new public sports park.
  • A county contribution of $2.5 million a year for 30 years, which comes to $45 million in present value.
  • A state contribution of $20 million.
  • $25 million in property taxes that will be diverted to the stadium.
  • ???????? for purchasing the stadium land, which is supposed to be figured out by August 15, though that deadline could be extended.

The Dispatch actually seems to have done a good job of accounting for present value, but unless I’m missing something, they’ve done a less good job on addition: $40 million + $45 million + $20 million + $25 million = $130 million, not $140 million. Which isn’t to say the public cost won’t reach $140 million — the public land costs could easily drive it that high — but it seems like the current price tag should be “$130 million plus land,” so that’s what I’m going with.

The Crew, meanwhile, would according to the Dispatch “market, control and have the rights to all revenue from the new stadium,” including naming rights, paying just $10 a year in rent. You might think that with the public putting up about half the cost of the building, they should get something like half the revenues — but if so you clearly haven’t read the subtitle of the book that launched this website. Silly you!


5 comments on “Public cost of Columbus Crew stadium keeps rising, public revenue share still at zero

  1. The subtitle could really just be the subtitle to what is the core problem with how we manage our economy currently.

    I wouldn’t be nearly as annoyed at income/wealth inequality if the “haves
    and the “super-haves” didn’t spend so much of their privileged position siphoning off public investment to their individual interests. Obviously expecting people not to tilt the playing field is foolish, but it would be so much easier if the “super-haves” acted with the same level of responsibility as their power.

    • Agreed. I am particularly offended by those who say “we should pay more tax”… not because they say that, but because they assume that it is somehow their responsibility to pay as little as possible, and also because they seem to have missed the obvious alternative – if they believe they are undertaxed they can use directed giving to support causes and achieve the objectives that they believe the additional tax they should be paying would be used to fund.

      They do not do that.

      Honourable mention on the hatred list goes to those who have made a “commitment” to give away their wealth when they die. Once dead, they no longer need that wealth… so I’d say as acts of altruism go, that one is pretty weak…

      This would be equivalent to me pledging never to eat chicken again out of solidarity with the birds who suffer horrific lives in our mechanized meat production business, but only after I am dead and no longer need food.

      I really manned up there, didn’t I?

  2. Hunt Sports spent $28m and change building the original Crew stadium (which if my math is right is $40-45m in today’s dollars).

    So the direct cash contribution from the city is pretty much the same as the original capital put in by the former owner. Do we think that is a coincidence or is it some form of “refund” on the stadium that they apparently believe they shouldn’t have built in the first place? Remind me… does the city take ownership of the old facility as part of this “deal”?

    Also… why is the city paying the team to build a public sports park for $12m? Isn’t it the city’s role to build and maintain public sports parks???

  3. Check out this garbage. When sycophant reporters and sycophant columnists of local newspapers are sleeping with the enemy, the public loses every time. Makes me sick.
    https://www.dispatch.com/sports/20190618/michael-arace–plan-for-new-crew-stadium-running-smoothly

    • That creep is in this picture along with the other parasites celebrating their “award”. The article you linked should surprise no one.

      https://columbusfoundation.org/at-the-table-blog/save-the-crew-wins-2019-spirit-of-columbus-award