Sports economists have long argued that publicly financed stadiums are a waste of taxpayer money. And they have the data to prove it.
Not only are the Nats not paying rent on their beautiful new (empty) stadium, it’s not giving much back to the DC residents who paid to build it. Sure, some new jobs were created. And sure, construction is happening around the stadium. But the new Department of Transportation building right next door probably has a lot more to do with that than the Nats' stadium does. They got a huge taxpayer contribution to build the stadium. Taxpayers pay again for tickets, overpriced food and merchandise, maybe parking. But how many taxpayers are really benefitting? Never mind the state of the Nationals as a baseball team, which is pretty sad. We were lead to believe that paying for a stadium would pay us back in new growth and tax revenue, and I don’t think there’s much evidence of that. The stadium did hit at a bad time in the economy, and that’s certainly slowed the potential growth, but if the economy (and especially the real estate market) had stayed booming like it was a few years ago, we wouldn’t need the stadium promote growth in the area. Supply and demand would have taken care of it.