By Stephen Maisch | Particular to The Tribune
| Could 26, 2023, 11:51 a.m.
Might Salt Lake Metropolis be the epicenter of ladies’s sports activities in the US? Sure. And we should always put money into making it occur.
As an economist, it feels slightly unusual to be writing these phrases. One of many few issues that the majority economists agree about, is that subsidies to sports activities stadiums present little, if any, tangible financial impacts.
After three sports activities economists reviewed 130 research on venue subsidies spanning 20 years, they concluded that “the extent of venue subsidies usually supplied far exceeds any noticed financial advantages.”
Las Vegas is betting that this time, issues are going to be completely different. It not too long ago spent $750 million in public cash to assist construct a soccer stadium for the Raiders. Now it’s poised to spend $395 million to assist fund a baseball stadium for the A’s.
It’s not all doom and gloom, although. One examine estimated that when Akron’s favourite son, LeBron James, got here again to play in Cleveland after a stint in South Seashore, the variety of consuming and consuming institutions inside one mile of Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse elevated by 13.7% and LeBron’s presence elevated employment in bars and eating places by 23.5%.
Might it’s the case that it’s not the shiny new stadium however quite what’s occurring inside that actually issues? I feel so.
That’s why, whereas I used to be unhappy when the Salt Lake Bees introduced they have been taking their skills to South Jordan, I’m excited by a proposal from a coalition of Salt Lake residents, athletes, sports activities followers, enterprise house owners, and builders to transform the soon-to-be-empty stadium into a house for girls’s soccer, rugby, curler derby, final, and American soccer — and even perhaps extra sports activities.
It’s true that there can be a whole lot of completely different sports activities beneath one roof, and a few may unfavorably keep in mind the mixed-use baseball-football stadiums of the ‘70s and ‘80s, however it’s necessary to notice why these amenities got here into being. Many cities have been not sure if there was sufficient demand for skilled soccer and wished to cowl their bases with baseball. The considering went, that if folks aren’t into these Pittsburgh Steelers and this NFL factor goes bust, at the very least we nonetheless have the Pirates.
Might one in every of these ladies’s sports activities be the NFL of the Nineteen Seventies? The demand for girls’s sports activities, notably ladies’s soccer, is simply getting greater. The 2019 Girls’s World Cup last between the US and Netherlands in France drew 14.3 million U.S. viewers. (By comparability, the 2018 Males’s World Cup Closing had 11.4 million U.S. viewers.) On the mainland, from 2016 to 2018, the U.S. ladies’s soccer workforce generated extra income on the gate than did the male aspect over the identical time interval. Curiosity within the ladies’s squad solely appears to be rising, gross sales of the 2019 jersey have been 500% increased than the 2015 jerseys.
Demand for girls’s sports activities shouldn’t be restricted to soccer. Deloitte Insights stories that, when trying globally, “66% of individuals have been curious about at the very least one ladies’s sport, and amongst sports activities followers (of whom 49% are feminine), that determine rises to 84%”.
Everyone knows there’s no free lunch, although. So, what would this price us?
Properly, the Bees have been paying $1,250 a month to Salt Lake Metropolis to lease the stadium. What these ladies are asking for is the same lease. The chance price to the general public is thus the distinction between the $15,000 present yearly lease and the potential cash that could possibly be procured if the stadium land have been developed into one thing else.
Salt Lake might actually get much more than $15,000 a 12 months for these 13 acres — and there are many locations these revenues could possibly be used for a lot good all through town — however do we actually need one other Gateway or Metropolis Creek, the place virtually all of the income flows out of town to a company hub someplace else, providing in alternate a handful of minimal wage jobs and the subsequent Mattress Bathtub and Past?
As an economist, a Salt Lake resident who lives close to the ballpark, and a father who hopes to take his daughter out to the ballgame for a very long time to return, I do know what I would like.
Steve Maisch is an affiliate professor on the College of Utah, the place he teaches a category on sports activities economics.