By John C. Mozena, president of the Center for Economic Accountability
October 17, 2022
“This is the worst decision in Nashville since someone thought it’d be a good idea to let pedal bars piloted by drunk bachelorettes take over Broadway on any given Saturday night.”
“Metro Nashville voters were asked to approve the last stadium deal. The only reason they’re not being given a vote on this gigantic giveaway is that the powers that be are worried that taxpayers who are struggling to afford gas and groceries might tell the Titans to pay for their own damned stadium this time around.”
“That $500 million from the state government is more than Tennessee collects in a year from tobacco taxes plus state taxes on beer, mixed drinks and all other alcoholic beverages sold in the state, combined. It’s also almost twice as much as the $254 million the state collected in business taxes last year. If I were a business owner or manager in Tennessee, I’d wonder why two years’ worth of my taxes were going to make sure that a football team owner makes a giant profit. And then I’d probably need one of those highly taxed drinks.”
“The Titans just hit the lottery. No, seriously. In this year’s budget, the state lottery is projected to bring in $499 million. That funds things like college scholarships and grants for foster children, military veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, low-income adults getting their first degrees and many other worthwhile students. So yeah, $500 million is one heck of a jackpot for the Titans.” (Cite: Tennessee State Budget, p. A-105)”
“Stadiums suck at economic development since they spend all but a few days a year dark and silent, contributing nothing to the surrounding community. If you want proof, consider that last season, the Titans hosted 617,000 fans. An average-sized supermarket serves more customers in a year than that. Plus, the supermarket offers better jobs.”
“They say that stadiums are ‘anchors’ for the surrounding district. In real life, anchors are big things that rarely get used, spend most of their time just getting in the way and aren’t good for anything other than making you stand still. So in that sense, yes, a stadium is just like an anchor.”
‘In 2017, the University of Chicago asked a panel of some of the highest-profile economists in the world, including seven Nobel Prize winners, whether stadium subsidies cost taxpayers more than they’re worth. 84 percent said yes, they’re bad deals; 11 percent weren’t sure and just 4 percent said no, they’re worth it. Any politician or team official who says the new Titans stadium will be a great deal for taxpayers should be forced to explain why they’re right about economic development and all these Nobel Prize-winning economists are wrong.”
“They’re acting like this stadium will be paid for with free, magical money. But building a stadium doesn’t magically put more money in families’ entertainment budgets. When people spend money at a Titans game, they’re not spending it somewhere else in Metro Nashville – and the taxes they’re paying are now going to the stadium, not to fund other government services.”
“The Los Angeles Rams paid for their own stadium and just won the Super Bowl. Why can’t the Titans do the same thing? And honestly, it’s a good question whether the plan for a domed stadium is the best decision to make from a football perspective. In 56 Super Bowls to date, just four have been won by a team that played its home games in a domed stadium. Are the Titans dooming themselves to more decades of never quite winning the big one, just so they can make more money off luxury boxes and concerts?” (Note: 2000 Rams, 2006 Colts, 2010 Saints, 2022 Rams.)
The Center for Economic Accountability (www.economicaccountability.org) is a nonpartisan and nonprofit educational organization that works to advance transparency, accountability and market-based reforms in state and local economic development programs across America. More information on its “Pay For Your Own Damn Stadium” campaign can be found at PFYODS.org.
Photo of Mozena available here: https://economicaccountability.org/john-c-mozena-photo/.