Field of Schemes
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April 13, 2004

Selig missing economist gene?

MLB factotum Bud Selig, in Philadelphia for the opening of the new $458 million Citizens Bank Park (half paid for by public funds), had this to say on the subject of public stadium financing: "I was raised in a family of economists, and I would argue the economics. At worst, a new ballpark is a break-even proposition." Bud's relatives must not include Johns Hopkins economists Bruce W. Hamilton and Peter Kahn, who found that the Baltimore Orioles' Camden Yards earns the state of Maryland $3 million a year in new revenues, while costing $14 million a year in construction debt. (This was in 1997, at the height of Camden Yards' popularity; attendance has since dropped dramatically, and along with it state revenues.) As Doug Pappas noted: "All told, each dollar of extra revenue from the ballpark costs Maryland taxpayers almost $5 - making Camden Yards one of the few investments worse than the lottery which financed it."

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