Pro Sports
& Subsidies
& Resources
or Power?
Economics or Power? Paying to Play  
Economic Logic or Interest Group Power?
Illustration of a voter deciding between economics or power. long description of image

Some argue that basketball and hockey arenas offer a greater range of uses than football and baseball stadiums, and therefore represent a better investment by the public. Arenas can also be used for conventions, concerts and other events, and their more compact size means that they are easier to locate in city centers, adding an economic spark and cultural focus to sometimes ghostly downtowns. In Dallas, the American Airlines Center is used for both basketball and hockey. Additionally, it is the home of the Arena Football League's Dallas Desperados. The SBC Center in San Antonio is the home of the NBA Spurs, the WNBA Silver Stars, and the minor-league hockey team the Rampage. The SBC Center even houses the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo. Similarly, the Toyota Center in Houston is the home of the Rockets, the WNBA Comets, and the minor-league hockey team the Aeros.

But economic logic does not seem to be the determining factor in voter support for stadium subsidies. In addition to the multi use arenas that have been successfully approved and built, two baseball stadiums and one football stadium have also been approved in voter referendums. Because supporters of public subsidies for private sports franchises enjoy a competitive edge in resources and organization – as well as the particular distribution of costs and benefits – they have repeatedly shut out subsidy opponents. Economics were certainly part of the discussion, but politics and the dynamics of political organization carried the day for Texas sports franchises and their supportive fans.

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