A. Barton Hinkle on the Potential Economic Viability of Small Stadiums


Ensign beedrill

What we know—based on decades of research—is that publicly financed sports stadiums are a sucker's bet for everyone except the rich team players and their even richer owners. But some recent research suggests smaller clubs and smaller facilities might not be the economic sinkholes their bigger cousins are. The work comes from Nola Agha, an assistant professor of sports management at the University of San Francisco and arrives at what Agha terms "an unexpected outcome": Certain types of teams and facilities can produce gains in regional income (albeit small ones: about $67 to about $117 per capita). Agha cautions that her research doesn't include any cost-benefit analysis, "so there is no implication that cities should invest in AA or rookie stadiums." Still, writes A. Barton Hinkle, the economic case against sports stadiums used to be open and shut in every instance. Now, in some cases, it is simply open.