What most people argue about regarding professional sports teams is when the City or State provides tax breaks to the ownership or worse when they pay for a portion of the construction of a new facility to house the sports team. What most people don’t put into the equation and what is hard to define is the benefits to the city overall. Quantifying a rise in business outside of the direct benefit. USHUD has seen cities such as Baltimore lose a team (The Colts) and suffer the consequences as local businesses suffered from the lack of business and the citizens of Baltimore having a collective sense of loss.
Once the Browns (alas Cleveland again) moved to Baltimore with a new name a new and strong sense of City pride ran over the entire City and state. This may seem like a ridiculous supposition but USHUD believes that people who live in cities where they have a team to root for and build an allegiance to, they are far less likely to want to leave that city for greener pastures. A sense of community cannot be gauged on a census card or via a mathematical formula. Pride in one’s City also means pride in one’s community and USHUD believes that this translates into fewer abandoned homes and fewer homes that are left derelict. This again reflects in the health and vitality of the community at large.
The concept is too much for economists to quantify as there are numerous nuances that play into the entire picture.
This is not to mean that there have not been missteps in wooing potential sports to a City or State as could be easily seen in the 2014 Worlds Cup where the country of Brazil was not the winner but rather the ill-treated victim of sports promotion by FIFA the organization that runs the World Cup. FIFA which is listed as a non-profit organization while having billions in revenue left the country of Brazil with countless stadiums built to host only a handful of games and then would be located in areas of the country that people do not go and the people who live there cannot afford to attend a game if one were to be held there.
This is not the case for Cities that USHUD has seen in recent years. Gone are the days of the open check book for fear of losing a team. Cleveland said “No” to Art Modell the owner of the Browns before they moved and the Ravens afterwards. Modell wanted financing from the city to build more club level and executive seats on the existing stadium but his demands were roundly rejected by the city as a power play to bilk more money out of a city already in the steeps of a financial down turn due continual union demands on a faltering rust belt state.
Model then moved the team and the City of Baltimore stood at the Chesapeake Bay with open arms. The city of Cleveland demanded that the name “Browns” remain in Cleveland and not be taken with the team as the “Colts” name had been lost to Indianapolis years previous. If this is not a situation where civic pride is a large portion of the reason to keep a team in a city what purpose could Cleveland have for a football teams name when they had no football team?
Civic pride is worth a great deal more than the dollars and cents that are brought into a city during a game. Civic pride is why we have Monuments throughout every major metropolitan area. And monuments are not living and breathing entities. They don’t make 50 yard touch downs that we talk about for weeks. Yet politicians have no issue with raising a monument to one of their own. Granted monuments are not generally billion dollars stadiums but where would Ellis Island be if not for the Statue of Liberty?