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ICYMI: Stick taxpayers with soccer stadium tab?

Feb 21, 2020 by AFP

Americans for Prosperity-New Mexico State Director Burly Cain | Albuquerque Journal

After a successful inaugural season that included a trip to the playoffs, the New Mexico United soccer team is now looking for a permanent venue to call home with some help from taxpayers.

The team played its premier season in Isotopes Park, but with its lease due to expire in 2021, the quest to find a new home is underway.

This legislative session, state lawmakers will consider a proposal seeking $30 million of taxpayer funds to help build a brand new, state-of-the-art stadium in Downtown Albuquerque. The total cost is estimated to be somewhere in the ballpark of $100 million.

Building a new stadium is a wonderful idea that will surely boost morale and instill a feeling of hometown pride across the state. But taxpayers shouldn’t have to foot the bill. And if other cities have taught us anything, it’s that promises of sports stadiums sparking economic growth never live up to the hype.

Every time a professional sports team is looking to build a new stadium, hard-working families are asked to bear a significant portion of the financial burden. “If you build it, the economic benefits will come,” we are told, as projected figures of job growth and economic booms are used to entice taxpayers to fork over funds without complaint.

In another study from 1999, economist Raymond Keating reached a similar conclusion. During the 20th century, $15 billion in government subsidies had been spent on major league arenas. Overall, this spending often failed to generate positive economic impact for local communities or create new jobs

A new study from economists Cailin Slattery and Owen Zidar, from Columbia and Princeton respectively, did not find any significant evidence suggesting tax incentives like stadium subsidies stimulate economic growth.

Why is there such a dramatic discrepancy between what major league teams promise and what the studies show? For starters, the studies that support claims of economic growth are commissioned by the teams themselves and conducted by their own consultants.

This is not to say that building a stadium is a bad idea. But using taxpayer funds to do so most certainly is, as the studies show.

Handing out welfare to billionaires is not in the best interest of New Mexicans. Legislators should stand up for the taxpayers and vote no on subsidizing a new soccer stadium this legislative session.