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Author: Mark Kapocius

The Good, The Bad, and Public Financing of Private Stadia

In Franklin, as in many communities across the country, they are grappling with the issue of a publicly funding a privately-owned stadium.  In every publicly-funded stadia debate, it ultimately comes down to this one question: Does the public good warrant the public investment? “Public good,” in the great stadia debate, is twofold: (1) the community pride associated in the retention or attraction of a sports team, and (2) the improvement to the immediate area near the stadium. Public investment comes in many forms including infrastructure improvements, zoning changes, tax breaks, to outright cash gifts (in the form of government-issued bonds). Locally, both Miller Park and the new Bucks arena were subject to the same question.  It was determined that the public good warranted a public investment.  The construction of the facilities helped retain a major league sports team, as well as improve an existing urban area. In short, Milwaukee is a better city as a result of the teams being here, and the Menomonee River valley, and the northwest side of downtown Milwaukee, are better off with new sports facilities.  The public good warranted the public investment. Franklin’s stadium would presumably host the equivalent of a lower-level minor league baseball team.   A request for public investment in the project beyond zoning and infrastructure improvements has been tendered. Is there demand for a baseball team? As there is not an existing...

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