Neil deMause at Field of Schemes:
SI.com asked a bunch of economists whether St. Louis and San Diego should have coughed up more money to keep the Rams and (potentially) Chargers from moving to Los Angeles, and if you read this site with any regularity, you can probably guess what they said:
Brad Humphreys, sports economist and professor at the University of West Virginia: There is no evidence in any peer-reviewed scholarly journal that a professional football team will generate any tangible positive economic impact on a city. There is no evidence that the departure of a football team ever harmed a city’s economy.
[Peter] Von Allmen [president of the North American Association of Sports Economists]: There is a substantial body of economic research indicating that funding stadiums is not a successful economic development strategy.
[Victor] Matheson [sports economist and professor at College of the Holy Cross]: I would advise them to let the teams go. I don’t think these teams are worth that amount of money. We don’t spend that sort of money on anything else. Way more people go to movies every year than go to NFL games, yet we don’t have the government build movie theaters.
All of the economists noted that if you want to go ahead and build a stadium just because you think sports are keen and not in search of elusive economic benefits, go right ahead. Which is where I kind of wish SI had reached out to Centre College economist Bruce Johnson, who conducted surveys to determine how much monetary value residents typically put on the joy they get from the presence of a pro sports franchise, and came up with a number under $40 million — which, needless to say, is typically way less than cities are spending on most new sports facilities.
Still, good article to take note of for the next time you need evidence that economists do occasionally agree on something. Elected officials not so much, but hey, maybe some of them read SI.
Basking in reflected glory ... two of those guys are my co-authors.