Chester is a city plagued by high levels of poverty and crime rates. Elected officials promise that a soccer stadium, financed heavily by taxpayer dollars, will be part of solving Chester's economic woes. Governor Rendell said, "I believe this guarantees that Chester will be one of the first-class cities in Pennsylvania."
Yet economic research finds that athletic stadiums do not result in economic growth. Economist Phillip Miller demonstrated in his empirical study of St. Louis that stadium construction has no net effect on employment. Economics professor Ian Hudson found similar evidence. Other studies, including Dennis Coates and Brad Humphrey's analysis, "The Stadium Gambit and Local Economic Development," are even more pessimistic. Coates and Humphrey go beyond claiming that stadium development has no benefit for local economic development, concluding that projects actually have a negative effect on real per-capita income.
Politicians have a penchant for giving handouts to new facilities. They seem to believe they can hoodwink voters with a façade of progress. Construction offers the illusion of economic progress, and ceremonies to award tax dollars for new projects make elected officials look and feel like they are helping their constituents. But sports stadiums represent more “political development” for lawmakers than economic development for citizens.
The plan sounded great... build a midsize arena, stuff it with sports, music acts and monster trucks and create a centerpiece for the new city center...But trouble started almost from the day the doors of Santa Ana Star Center opened in 2006. Arena in New Mexico
Chester is poised to experience what other communities across the country have learned: athletic parks are no panacea for community revitalization. The benefits of sports stadiums are grossly over-sold by politicians and become extremely costly to taxpayers.
The enthusiasm of elected officials to build a soccer stadium in Chester is misguided, at best. At worst, it represents a waste of taxpayer dollars and an economic sham. It is unfortunate that political calculations are trumping sound public policies that would foster real economic growth and true revitalization in Chester. Reducing the tax and regulatory burdens on job creators would bring more lasting improvements to Chester. Harrisburg’s corporate welfare is a flagrant foul and deserves a “red card” from all taxpayers.
The above article excerpted from The Commonwealth Foundation
Update on Chester Stadium: Portrait of a boondoggle
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