By Scott Tibbs, January 2, 2005
Count me with the people who think it is a terrible misuse of taxpayer funds to build a new stadium for the Indianapolis Colts.
The National Center for Policy Analysis notes that Such government "investments" are money losers. A Pioneer Institute study, for example, notes that due to cost overruns, taxpayers' portion of the total bill for Toronto's Skydome ballooned from $120 million to $322 million. The government's share of the Skydome was privatized in 1992 for $120 million -- a considerable loss.
While the Colts are important to Indianapolis, would losing them be a large loss for the Marion County economy? I am not convinced it would. The dollars spent on the Colts may well go to other forms of entertainment in Indy, especially since the majority of the people attending games come from Marion County.
Many people feel that it is nice having the Colts here, especially with the team contending to win a Super Bowl. The Colts are in a better position to ask for corporate welfare than they would be if they had a 2-14 record, like the San Francisco 49ers.
If cities would stop giving into blackmail from professional sports teams seeking a handout, this would come to a halt because teams would recognize they cannot bully their way into the people’s collective wallet. But as long as there are other cities willing to give away the people's money to attract a pro sports team, the incentive to move will be high and it will be more difficult for current pro sports cities to keep their teams.
This is a problem in the NFL. The Colts are in Indianapolis because they abandoned their former city. The Rams and Raiders left Los Angeles for greener pastures. The Ravens and their owner created a lifetime enemy in the city of Cleveland when they left for Baltimore.
The NFL, the NBA and Major League Baseball will need to address this issue, because it threatens the good will, and therefore the consumption choices, of pro sports fans. While player misconduct certainly hurts the image of pro sports, threats to "take your ball and go home" unless you are treated to money forcibly confiscated from taxpayers generates much more ill will, both with fans and with people who do not follow sports.
Indianapolis should call the Colts bluff and tell them to leave if they don't like it here. Super Bowl contender or not, we'll see how many fans the Colts have if they keep it up. As for me, I will be rooting against them in the playoffs.