Build it, and They Will Leave


Colby Cosh writes about the latest case of taxpayer stadium financing gone horribly wrong. The Edmonton Trappers, a Triple-A baseball team, are being sold to Texas, at a 130 percent profit in just two years of ownership, even though "there are 15 years left on their lease at Telus Field, the beautiful state-of-the-art ballpark we taxpayers built for the team in 1995." How can the team get out of a 15-year contract? "The answer, apparently, is that the city is simply not going to enforce the lease." Why won't the city enforce the lease? Because it doesn't want any financial harm to come to the Canadian Football League's Edmonton Eskimos, which for the last two years have shared the same owner as the Trappers. More evidence of the point, long detailed in Reason, that public money and sports stadiums have no business going together, and create a market of ever-greater fools willing to inflate a multi-billion-dollar bubble. As Nick Gillespie wrote way back in February 1996:

There is indeed insanity here, as well as tyranny, extortion, and greed. But the cause for concern has precious little to do with free markets and football--it has to do with politicians throwing low-percentage bombs with the taxpayers' money.