We welcome new neighbors by bringing fresh bagels or a box of beer to them, but we do not buy a new one for them. whirlpool.
That’s the way Montreal’s taxpayers feel about the Tampa Bay Rays, the big league baseball team. It looks like a good team. We want her to come and play in Montreal. But we do not let her dip into our wallet to afford a brand new stadium.
The first problem is that it does not make sense to build a brand new stadium in half a baseball season. What is being negotiated between Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Ternberg and Montreal billionaire Stephen Bronfman would involve a team-sharing agreement. If possible, the Rays will play half of their season at Tampa Bay – presumably at Tropicana Field – and half of the season at a new stadium near downtown Montreal.
It is absolutely new for a team to play in a part-time city, but building a half-stadium is impossible. It’s not like you can build everything up to another base and stop there.
And this is especially expensive infrastructure. The three large baseball stadiums built in the last decade have cost between C $ 800 million and C $ 1.5 billion each. That’s a lot of money for a venue that would only be used for 40 games a year.
Then there is the whole question of economic benefits.
Even with a full-time team, there is no reason to subsidize the construction of stadiums.
No demonstrable positive economic effect
Economists have often looked at the issue, analyzed various participation and subsidy structures. The articles they wrote are almost unanimous: there is no formal evidence that subsidizing the construction of professional sports infrastructure would have a positive economic impact.
When asked by top economists, especially Nobel laureates in economics or former advisers to both US presidents, only 4% of them believe that taxpayers can get a positive return on investment by subsidizing sports team stadiums.
What about tourism and new jobs, you say? A study at Camden Yards Stadium in Baltimore estimates the annual net financial gain at $ 3 million per year. This hardly justifies the $ 225 million that taxpayers have poured into it, and that is with a full-time team.
In short, there is no economic rationale for the government to sink hundreds of millions of dollars of our money into it.
But it is also a matter of prioritization.
The Quebec government does not have an envelope filled with a few hundred million dollars lying in a closet somewhere. The combined burden of our provincial and federal debt already exceeds $ 50,000 per capita.
And even if we had that money, building a new baseball stadium would be low on the priority list, behind repairing our roads, supporting our health care system or reducing what remains the heaviest tax burden in North America. This explains why, when taxpayers were asked this question, 60% of them were opposed to subsidizing the return of baseball to Montreal.
If the Rays want to come and play in Montreal, we will give them a warm welcome. However, they must understand that we will not let them dip into taxpayers’ wallets.