A Super Bowl Football Fans and Taxpayers Could Enjoy
If you’re like me and made Valentine’s Day dinner reservations not realizing it was Super Bowl Sunday, you’ve spent the week catching up on highlight reels. One of the biggest highlights was where the Super Bowl was hosted this year.
SoFi Stadium in Southern California hosted Super Bowl LVI this year. Not only is the most expensive NFL stadium ever built, costing nearly $5 billion, SoFi stadium was also entirely privately funded. That means California taxpayers, who face some of the largest tax burdens in the country, didn’t pay a dime.
SoFi Stadium, which the Rams share with the Los Angeles Chargers, is part of a complex that includes a concert hall, shopping center, office buildings, condos, a luxury hotel, and a 25-acre park. As Eric Boehm of Reason notes, this area is three times larger than Disneyland and will be the site of future Olympic Ceremonies, World Cup games, and, of course, future Super Bowls.
Boehm also notes that there’s some cronyism at play. The city of Inglewood is allowing Rams owner Stan Kroenke to pocket some sales taxes from purchases made in the stadium complex, worth an estimated $180 million, to pay for infrastructure and an internal bus transit system.
Stanford Economist Roger Noll has also criticized SoFi stadium, noting the opportunity cost of using the 300-acre site for the complex instead of the next highest-valued alternative. Fortunately, those costs are born by Kroenke, his fellow investors and the NFL instead of California taxpayers. Compared to other stadiums, however, Noll concedes that SoFi Stadium is “a really good deal.”
In 2017, ALEC adopted the “Resolution Opposing Taxpayers Financing of Professional Sports Stadiums” model policy. This resolution highlights the dangers of committing taxpayer funds to building stadiums. In most cases, stadium subsidies have nearly no return on investment. Economic activity from a sports stadium is often merely redirected from other local attractions, whether those be theme parks, theaters or casinos.
When taxpayer dollars are committed to funding professional sports stadiums, taxpayers are still on the hook to pay long after a team changes venues or leaves the area entirely. Taxpayers in Missouri are still paying off the costs of the Edward Jones Dome, long after the Rams left for Los Angeles.
SoFi Stadium can be a model of what private enterprise can accomplish on its own. It is a state-of-the-art complex that’s privately funded. Its investors are solely responsible for its success or failure, not taxpayers. In a state where residents are leaving by the thousands because of oppressive tax burdens and government, SoFi stadium can be an example of what private enterprise can accomplish if government gets out of the way in the Golden State.