Group Think: The opposite of traditional ''groupthink,'' our Group Think poses one question to a variety of smart thinkers for insightful perspectives on relevant issues.

How Has a New Professional Sports Arena Affected Your City?

In cities across the country, citizens are being asked to help finance plush new sports stadiums, even in places like bankrupt Detroit.  These proposed stadiums provoke strong reactions, in part because they benefit wealthy big-league team owners — and their highly compensated players.

Owners of teams in the “big four” sports leagues—the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL—have received nearly $20 billion in taxpayer subsidies for new homes since 1990, according to Neil deMause, author of Field of Schemes.  Even though a number of studies have concluded that stadiums are poor municipal investments, local politicians often support their construction because they foster civic pride and create local jobs.

Once stadiums are constructed, the controversy continues. Some love the chance to cheer on their local team while others are frustrated by the high price of tickets and the traffic, noise and disturbances that come with a stadium.

In this Group Think we ask how new professional sports arenas are affecting Americans in cities large and small. We have compiled a few voices here, but would love to hear your thoughts on a new or proposed stadium where you live. Use the comments section below to tell us all about it.

Contributors

  • Anonymous

    Sacramentans who want a public vote on the arena public funding plan here, especially those involved with the group that is circulating an initiative petition to require a public vote, have been relentlessly attacked, vilified and demonized by most of our local media. A pro-public funding group, which is itself funded by wealthy developer interests, makes up outright lies and posts them on their website. The local media pick them up and repeats them uncritically. But the real villains are Sacramento’s politicians, not the people who want a public vote on the plan.
    When the last recession hit, the city council cut city budgets, some as much as 75%, cut public services, public safety, etc., and neglected infrastructure, like potholes. How did your neighborhood fare in these cuts? An example of council members’ half-vast efforts to find money to minimize service cuts is their fund raising effort for public pools. They put a kayak outside of city hall with a sign asking people for donations.
    But in 2011, at the first whiff that the Kings might leave, from almost nowhere, the city council came up with a scheme to raise $250 million to help build a new arena for the Kings. They thought that the relocation of the Kings elsewhere would be a bigger disaster to the city than was the Great Recession, which is just ridiculous.
    When that arena deal blew up, the city council spent most of that $250 million on neglected city infrastructure and restoring public service cuts. LOL! Of course they did no such thing. Public infrastructure and services just aren’t that important to our politicians. But they are important to the people in our neighborhoods.
    So in Nov. 2012, we approved a tax hike on ourselves to restore some of the recession era service cuts. Your local public pool was open all season this summer because we cared enough about our kids to provide the city council with the money for the pools. Note: We have never voted to raise taxes on ourselves to finance a new arena.
    But in early 2013, when the Kings again threatened to leave, the city council went into crisis mode and developed a scheme to raise even more money for a new arena to keep the Kings here. And let’s be honest about it, the primary purpose of a new arena is to keep the Kings in Sacramento. The overblown hype about downtown revitalization and the rest is just Kool Whip on a cow pie.
    It is clear that keeping the Kings franchise in Sacramento is the city council’s first, second and only priority.
    Our city council members have done their best to avoid a public vote on arena public funding because they think the public will vote it down. They will protest that there are other good reasons to not let us vote (they mostly come down to the elitist belief that we’re too stupid), but those are just fig leaves to cover their fear of losing a public vote on the issue.
    So, our politicians think the majority of Sacramentans oppose the arena public funding scheme, but try to cram it down our throats anyway. They do not care what the public thinks or wants if it isn’t what they want. This reveals their elitist arrogance and contempt for the will of the people they are supposed to represent. This is one reason why we need a public vote on it.
    Here’s more.
    Our politicians know that the Kings franchise is entitled to annual NBA revenue-sharing money that would easily finance a new arena with no public money. But Kings majority owner, Bay Area billionaire Vivek Ranadive’, told the NBA to keep that money. Considering this, why aren’t our politicians demanding as strongly and publicly as possible that the NBA release that revenue-sharing money to the Kings and that the Kings finance their own arena with it?
    Instead, our politicians continue to look out for the interests of the NBA and the Kings ownership group (KOG) over the interests of the city and our people. Why? What’s in it for them? Why are our politicians so intent on selling us out – unless they’ve been bought off? This thing reeks of backroom deals and political corruption – most of which is probably legal, but nonetheless corrupt.

  • http://posologist.blogspot.com/ Jeff Healitt

    They taxed Phoenicians without vote to build the privately-owned “Chase” Field (formerly “Bank One” Ballpark (BOB)). Out of curiosity, I went down to BOB during the last days of construction, just before it opened, to see what it looked like. The doors were open, so my wife and I stepped in to see what our tax dollars were being spent on. It was a sight to behold for that period in sports history.

    We were only about three feet inside the doorway and just wanted to see what it looked like, take it all in for just a few minutes. Within a minute or so, a security guard ran over to chase us out.. in not a very nice way. I think my spent tax dollars should have at least given me the opportunity to just “see” the stadium. No respect what-so-ever for the public. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chase_Field

    So, how do you think I feel about it? I’ve never, ever, been to a Diamondbacks ball game, and I will never support them or “freely” pay any money to go into that stadium.

  • chantal coryell

    I’m fighting that dang stadium right along with you! We (Sacramentans) keep playing this game with the Kings where they talk about leaving, then we plaster “HereWeStay” propaganda everywhere, then (after we sweeten the deal a bit) they stay. A few months pass and the cycle starts all over again. It’s like a bad relationship. What I think; if the Kings want to leave so bad, they should go. Why would we want a team who resents being here?

    Isn’t the mayor a former MBA player?
    Are there term limits for mayor in Sacramento?

  • NotARedneck

    “Why are our politicians so intent on selling us out – unless they’ve been bought off?”

    They’ve obviously been bought off – like nearly all (99.95%) RepubliCONs and a majority of Democrats. Simple as that.

  • Anonymous

    Massachusetts has all of the major sports in the state and yet not one dollar has gone to fund their buildings (although I am sure some dough went to infrastructure, ie. roads, etc). In fact, I think that the state called the Patriot’s bluff about moving to Connecticut a few years back before Kraft built his stadium next to the old one.
    It’s kinda like the way the southern states have been dredging for manufacturers to move to their states by lowering taxes, giving away land, cutting protections for the workers, etc. But it ends up being a race to the bottom and there is always someone else willing to undercut you. Look at all of the textile jobs that moved from the northeast to the Carolinas and are now off-shored someplace cheaper yet.
    Like a lover, if they are looking for the next best deal, they are going to find it and you are better off without them…