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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

January 23, 2015 at 10:41 AM

Vote: Are pro sports good for the economy

I’m in. But not everybody else is. One reader was outraged that taxpayer-funded buses have “Go Hawks!” on their destination boards.

And it’s easy to paraphrase Gen. Smedley Butler’s comment about war: Pro sports are a racket. Rich owners, operating in monopoly leagues, get millions from the public to build lavish stadiums under threat of moving the teams, that heavily benefit those same rich owners and their wealthy buddies.

The classic economic-development rationale is that pro teams generate jobs (most abeit low paying) and tax revenues. They are also important for retaining and recruiting major companies and talent. The Brookings Institution has a useful overview of the pro and con arguments here.

A certain mutual assured destruction (MAD) is at work. Few politicians want to test a theory that their cities can lose pro teams and remain economically strong. There’s the counter-argument of Los Angeles, which hasn’t had an NFL team in years. But LA has every other pro sport represented. And it’s LA, a world city. A place such as Cincinnati doesn’t want to take that chance. Losing the Sonics remains a civic trauma here.

It’s also true that most voters likely wouldn’t approve the same lump sums for, say, education or transit, as they would to keep their beloved pro team from leaving. Being a Big League City has a cachet.

So what do you think?


This Week’s Links:

Where will the future jobs come from? | Tim Taylor

How super was Mario (wonkish) | Paul Krugman

Stimulus for the eurozone, but it may be too little or too late | The Upshot

The 10 hottest neighborhoods of 2015 (two in the Seattle area) | Businessweek

The solar industry is creating jobs much faster than the overall economy | TreeHugger

How corrupt are states in the Northwest (and everywhere else) | FiveThirtyEight

The Shake Shack economy | The New Yorker

Our big bet for the future: The 2015 Gates annual letter | Bill & Melinda Gates


Today’s Econ Haiku:

Kid’s meal size earnings

Cooking up those low wages

Clown economics


 

 

Comments | More in Sports business | Topics: Pro sports, Seahawks, Sonics

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