Contrary to the oft-repeated claim by sports supporters and local governments, professional
teams have not helped the economies in any of the seven California cities that host
such teams, according to a new study from the University of California at Berkeley.
The award-winning study by UC graduate student Jack Sylvan found that the level of
a city's economic activity was not affected by the presence of sports franchises,
and it questioned the diversion of public funds away from unmet urban needs.
``This refutes the claim by professional sports boosters that sports franchises stimulate
the local economy,'' Sylvan wrote.
The analysis, ``Professional Sports Subsidy as Economic Development,'' was published
by UC's Institute of Urban and Regional Development and released last week. Winner
of the annual McClure Award for the nation's best master's degree project in urban
planning, it is the latest of several academic analyses that cast doubt on the reputed
economic benefits of professional sports franchises
Although a casual observer might believe that the flood of tax dollars poured into
new stadiums sprang from some public mandate, appearances are deceiving. When asked,
taxpayers generally oppose spending tax dollars to build stadiums. The following
graph shows the results of a 1997 Rasmussen Poll in which 64 percent of respondents
answered “no” to the question of whether tax dollars should ever be used to build
a professional sports facility.