Tampa Bay Lightning Pork
The City of Tampa and the Hillsborough County Commission are debating what to do with tourist tax dollars.
In the letter to County Administrator Pat Bean, City Attorney David Smith particularly objects to the unilateral way the county is making the pitch, because it involves Tampa government kicking in money to the Tampa Bay Lightning. He said if the County Commission approves the measure when it meets Wednesday, the city won't recognize it.
Good for the city officials to stand up against this. Economists Brad Humphreys and Dennis Coates found that communities don't get a return on their invest.
“Our conclusion, and that of nearly all academic economists studying this issue, is that professional sports generally have little, if any, positive effect on a city’s economy,” Humphreys and Coates wrote in a report issued last month by the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C. The institute commissioned the professors to study the economic impact of a deal proposed by Anthony Williams, the mayor of Washington, D.C.; under terms of the agreement, the Major Baseball League would move the Montreal Expos to the nation’s capital in exchange for a new, city-built ballpark.
The professors based their report on new data as well as previously published research in which they analyzed economic indicators from 37 major metropolitan areas with major-league baseball, football and basketball teams.
“The net economic impact of professional sports in Washington, D.C., and the 36 other cities that hosted professional sports teams over nearly 30 years, was a reduction in real per capita income over the entire metropolitan area,” Humphreys and Coates noted in the report.
The short answer is that the county and the city will lose money if they make improvement to the St. Pete Times Forum. Remember how Mayor Dick Greco and the Commission pitched the Bucs new stadium as the school tax? We are still hearing the same arguments that schools are underfunded. Sports facilities do not provide riches for the average taxpayer. Let's get beyond that argument. I'm tired of hearing it. If politicians want to say that then they should be laughed out of office.