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Have Public Finance Principles Been Shut Out in Financing New Stadiums for the NFL?

Author: ROBERT A. BAADE AND VICTOR A. MATHESON
Published in PFM, Vol. 6 No. 3

Over the past 15 years, new stadiums in the National Football League have been built at an unprecedented rate, and most new facilities have utilized significant public funds. This paper looks at whether the methods used to finance these new facilities honored public finance principles regarding equity and efficiency. While some common sources of public funds for sports infrastructure such as ticket taxes and personal seat licenses are both equitable and efficient, an examination of the 20 NFL stadiums constructed or refurbished since 1992 reveals a trend towards an increased reliance on taxation of visitors through hotel and rental car taxes. Although taxation of persons living outside one’s own metropolitan area is appealing, this paper suggests that these sources of funding are neither equitable nor efficient

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