The Public Sector and Sport Venues: Benefits, Costs, and Reconciling the Diverging Realities of Academics and Practitioners


Our paper explains why some communities support public investment in a sports venue despite academicians and independent analysts often concluding that the investment is a poor choice? We argue the answer lies in that critiques are too often measured only one set of benefits when elected officials and taxpayers consider a far more complex set of measures. To answer that question, this paper combines a detailed review of the three classifications of studies measuring the benefits of sport venues and empirical research on outcomes from several cities. We argue sport venues produce at least three types of benefits: fiscal returns (elevated tax receipts), economic advantages from relocation of regional economic activity (that can be measured by several indicators including revenue streams in the venue), and intangible benefits (usually measured by contingent valuation surveys). Our goal is to discuss a methodology that permits more robust conversation regarding why some communities invest in sport venues and others might not. The benefits of an investment could well exceed the costs or produce a set of benefits that are sufficiently robust to offset the investment. Continuing to emphasize an approach that looks at only one set of returns will not lead to a framework of reconciliation and the development of strategies for communities to successfully negotiate with teams to secure returns that are valued by their constituents. This work in necessary as communities continue to be asked to invest in venues used by very profitable teams.


Jeffrey Carr
Student, PhD, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States

Mark Rosentraub
Bickner Endowed Professor of Sport Management, Sport Management, University of Michigan, Michigan, United States


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


2023 Special Focus—The Impact of Professional Sport on Community


Measuring Economic Impact, Sports Stadiums, Sports Venues, Subsidies, Taxpayers, Benefits

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