Stadium skeptic says Cobb is avoiding funding pitfalls

(WXIA) -

Dr. J.C. Bradbury is a Department Chair and Professor, Department of Exercise Science and Sport Management, Kennesaw State University. Here's his take on the Braves move to a new stadium in Cobb County, as told to 11 Alive reporter Doug Richards, who has edited his remarks for brevity.

One of the first things that happens (in stadium deals) is, they're going to understate the costs and overstate the benefits. In general economists who study the economic impact of sports stadiums find there is very little impact. It's negligible. And zero is probably the best estimate.

It appears that Cobb representatives have insured that any cost overruns will be covered by the Braves. That will help protect them in terms of what they might have to cover down the road. For example, if there's a baseball strike, there's a certain amount of income the Braves have guaranteed they're going to pay regardless of what happens.

What we see is, stadium issue after stadium issue, fans just put their fingers in their ears and say "la la la la" when it comes to stadiums. "We don't want to hear cost. We want to have a team in our town."

Anytime government spends money, there's always an opportunity cost. There's always something you're giving up. If you're taking the hotel motel tax and spending it on the stadium, what other things could that be spent on? Could it be spent on improving infrastructure, sewers, those types of activities? Doesn't mean it's a bad thing to spend the money on the Braves. But there always is an opportunity cost. It's not free found money.

Car rental and hotel taxes are things that are commonly used to fundsports stadiums. We think of it as, well, people are coming in from out of town, they're going to be renting a car and so we need to have them pay a little more. When the reality is that car rentals in Cobb County are never going to be from people from out of town. They're going to be (local) people with car trouble.

No one flies into the airport, takes public transportation up to Cobb County and rents a car. So in my mind, taxing people having a bad day may not be the best thing.

But I think overall, this is going to be pretty politically popular. Another economist once said: "If there's one thing that turns a fiscal conservative into a socialist, it's a sports stadium."


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