Politifact (March 9) – A 2008 summary of research by economists Dennis Coates of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and Brad Humphreys of West Virginia University… reviewed more than 40 academic studies, spanning nearly two decades, that examined public subsidies for professional sports teams. Their findings were clear.
“There now exists almost 20 years of research on the economic impact of professional sports franchises and facilities on the local economy,” they wrote, reporting that studies published in peer-reviewed economic journals show there is “almost no evidence that professional sports franchises and facilities have a measurable economic impact on the economy.”
[Humphreys] and Coates found no difference in economic impact between the years when teams were playing their regular schedules and five time periods when they didn’t, due to strikes.
And in a subsequent analysis, they found that having postseason games did not affect real per-person income in a city. Money may shift from one part of the economy to another, but there’s no net benefit.
There are special-interest reports that claim an economic benefit and contend that every dollar invested in a sports franchise generates a specific amount of money, Humphreys said, but those are never published in reputable journals because “you can make them say whatever you want them to say” by tinkering with the assumptions that influence how the numbers are crunched.