The landscape of professional sporting venues within the United States is changing. From 1990-2018, within the four main American professional sports leagues, 20 new NHL arenas, 24 new NBA arenas, 22 new NFL stadiums, and 26 new MLB stadiums were built. As the industry morphs, a handful of new initiatives are being worked into the construct of these venues including increased commercial areas for shopping and restaurants and sharing of the venues between two organizations in an attempt to increase the overall utilization of the spaces. Additionally, in Detroit, San Francisco and Atlanta, where new stadiums and arenas were just recently introduced, the municipalities are using the venues to catalyze further growth and development within the city. However, these trends, while innovative, are tethered to high prices.
This thesis seeks to analyze the changes in how current stadiums are being funded, the public’s reaction to and perception of those financing plans and what the future might hold. Research showed that tax dollars are increasingly unpopular and teams are moving away from using public money to fund sports venues. Gathered for this report, survey data of 815 Arizona State University students supported anecdotal evidence that people within a community are relatively unhappy with the idea of their money being used to partially subsidize wealthy sports organizations’ infrastructure. Altogether, recent evidence suggests that multi-use facilities funded in majority by private wealth are more popular and generate greater economic impact for the municipality than earlier in history, when heavily subsidized venues allowed teams to take advantage of local government and created fan mistrust.
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