Dennis Coates on Perhaps the Most Important Myth in Professional Sports

Posted on May 31, 2008 by


The subtitle of The Wages of Wins is Taking Measure of the Many Myths in Modern Sport.  In our book we detail myths ranging from the value of scoring in the NBA (it is over-valued), to the impact of labor disputes on attendance in sports (there isn’t much of one), to the ability of baseball teams to simply buy wins (not much of an ability). 

Although our book covers many myths and misconceptions, there is one myth about sports that we completely ignore.  And this particular myth actually costs tax payers millions of dollars (so it might be the most important myth of all).

What myth am I talking about?  Basically, although sports leagues and politicians argue otherwise, subsidized sports stadiums do not generate enough economic growth to justify the taxpayer subsidy.

Here is Dennis Coates – professor of economics at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County – commenting on this subject (focusing on the stadium for the Washington Nationals) on a short clip at Reason.TV

(hat tip to Club for Growth, Skip Sauer at The Sports Economist, and JC Bradbury at Sabernomics).

In addition to being a professor at UMBC, Coates is also the current president of The North American Association of Sports Economists.  I should also note that Coates is not the only one to find that sports stadiums do not promote economic growth.  Brad Humphreys (co-author of Dennis), Victor Matheson, and Robert Baade (current president of the International Association of Sports Economists) would comprise an incomplete list of additional researchers who have also found that sports do not create much economic growth.

– DJ

Posted in: Sports Econ