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Should the Federal Government Be Funding Private Sports Stadiums?

A new report says there's a better use for $3.7 billion.
The view from the new Yankee Stadium.
The view from the new Yankee Stadium.Mike Segar/Reuters

This is what Yankee fans gained when the doors to their new stadium opened in 2009: seats that were two inches wider, a .5 percent increase in the number of bathrooms per fans, and a Hard Rock Café in which to while away slow innings.

But it didn’t come free, and according to a new report from the Brookings Institution, the federal government footed a large part of the bill. Around $1.7 billion of the total $2.5 billion in construction costs for the stadium overhaul was financed by tax-exempt municipal bonds issued by the city of New York. If those bonds had been taxable, the government would have earned $431 million; instead, that money was funneled straight into the stadium. To add a little bit of extra sting, the government lost an additional $61 million in revenue from the windfall tax breaks issued to high-income bond holders.