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Economists’ Statement on the Likely Impact of a Professional Soccer Stadium in the District of ColumbiaTuesday, June 10th, 2008
Economic research on the impact of professional sports stadiums suggests that the proposal to provide between $150 million and $225 million in public funds to build a new professional soccer stadium in the District of Columbia likely will not generate notable economic or fiscal benefits for the city. Most studies find that new sports stadiums do not increase employment or incomes. Some even find that stadiums have a modest negative effect on local economies. The reason appears to be that sports stadiums do not increase overall entertainment spending but merely shift it from other entertainment venues to the stadium.
Research also suggests that a soccer stadium alone will not revitalize a neighborhood in DC. Because sports stadiums are not used most of the year, they do not stimulate much development outside the stadium.
A new soccer stadium cannot be expected to generate a net increase in economic activity in the Washington metropolitan area, but it may shift some entertainment spending from the Maryland and Virginia suburbs into the District. Nevertheless, the economic benefits to the District are not likely to outweigh the large proposed stadium subsidy.
In short, it is dubious to justify the use of public funds to subsidize construction of a new professional soccer stadium in Washington DC on economic development grounds.
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