The federal government has lost $3.7 billion in revenues by subsidizing the construction of sports stadiums with tax-exempt bonds since 2000 — and almost a quarter of that sum went to New York’s big-ticket teams.
Yankee Stadium, Citi Field and the Barclays Center between them received direct and indirect subsidies worth $867 million, according to a new report by Brooking Institution fellows Ted Gayer, Austin Drukker and Alexander Gold. The amount includes both direct tax revenue lost by issuing exempt bonds, and the indirect “windfall” high-income bond holders get from owning the bonds.
Yankee Stadium, completed in 2009, is by far the biggest beneficiary, causing $492 million in lost federal revenues. Citi Field, home to the Mets and completed in 2009, shares the second place with Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium: they caused $214 million in lost revenue each. Next up is Brooklyn’s Barclays Center — home to the Brooklyn Nets and New York Islanders — with a total federal bill of $161 million.
The report notes that the subsidies are essentially a waste of money. “Indeed, there is little evidence that stadiums provide even local economic benefits,” the authors write. “Decades of academic studies consistently find no discernible positive relationship between sports facilities and local economic development, income growth, or job creation.”