Your Community readers weigh in on public funding for sports arenas

Categories: Canada, Community

With the city councils of Edmonton and Markham, Ont., approving public funding for arena projects in their cities, wanted to look into the numbers and the history of these deals. 

The CBC Community posted their reactions to our article: Why funding new sports stadiums can be a losing bet

  • "It's a great bet, if you're the billionaire team owner or millionaire players that benefit from it. It's a pretty lousy bet if you're a taxpayer struggling to make ends meet, since you get the privilege of subsidizing the billionaire and millionaires," said Tridus.

  • "The tax payer should have nothing to do with this funding. Billionaires and millionaires can't come up with the money? Riiiiight. More like they don't want to use their own money because of the risk, so pass it on to the public in the guise of job creation opportunities. Just one more example of privatize profit, socialize losses," said DasMeister.

  • "The most successful sports franchises own their facilities, teams like Manchester United, the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Yankees. So when a team like the Oilers demands a new arena from the host city or they leave town, Edmonton should tell them "don't let the door hit you on the way out." A good hockey town shouldn't worry about not having a franchise and question the economical viability of the current owner," said kannuc. 

Many of the commenters cited local examples of public stadium funding. 

  • "The Skydome is a perfect example of a plan gone wrong. It cost $530 million to build and was eventually sold for $151 million to a beer company. Incredible," wrote Tax Me...I'm Canadian.

  • "I hope the Regina city council sees this article. They just voted to go ahead with OUR ill-conceived white elephant, touting the economic benefits all the way," said tempersfidgit.

  • "No mention of Regina here. We're getting stuck with 'temporary' four to five per cent annual property tax increases for the next 10 years to pay our share on top of regular re-assessments and other fee increases. And people actually believed our city council when they were told the increases would be temporary," said TMLfan in exile.

  • "Edmonton taxpayers are on the hook for 30 years to subsidize a hockey arena for a billionaire owner!" said own goal. 

Some members of the CBC Community disagreed with the conclusion that public funding of sports facilities has little economic impact for cities. 

  • "Just look at what happened to sports bars when the NHL strike was on. If a sports team leaves the province, millions of dollars in revenue from income taxes go with it. Then there are the non-monetary impacts to the community, both good and bad," said tdot34.

  • "It's not the arena itself that creates economic benefits - it's the prospect of having a big league tenant. The MTS Centre in Winnipeg only had marginal benefit the first ten years it was up until the Jets moved in. The economy in the area has really taken off. There are tons of new bars and restaurants around the arena now and a high rise hotel being built across the street. When the Jets are playing, the bars are packed. There is no doubt the Jets have been good for the Winnipeg economy especially downtown," said The Toastman. 

What do you think? Is having a professional sports facility worth the public money it costs? Thanks for all your comments. 

Tags: Community, Community Reaction, money, Politics, Sports

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