Sid Hartman weighs in on the Minnesota Twins stadium debate. Mr. Hartman is a very vocal supporter of public funding for stadiums and arenas and he pulls out the usual arguments for public funding.
Now let's see what the Legislature will do to make sure that this baseball team remains one of the real assets this area owns, rather than have the Pohlads sell it and have a new owner move it to someplace like Las Vegas. After all, the NBA is having an All-Star Game in Las Vegas, setting the stage for an NBA franchise in the hottest potential market in the country. Other sports, including Major League Baseball, will follow.
"This area" does not own the Twins. Carl Pohlad owns the Twins. If the area owned the Twins, then the area would get all the proceeds from games and the Pohlads would get nothing. Anyways, criticizing opponents of public funding is criticism misdirected. Criticism should be heaved towards the powers that be in MLB who decide where a team can exist. To understand why this criticism is warranted, ask the following question: "why does Las Vegas not have MLB team?"
Increasing the size of a league imposes externalities on existing team owners. The new team draws some fans away from the existing teams and it draws some national media revenue from incumbents as well. It also increases the demand for playing talent. To limit entry into the league, the league sets up barriers to entry (expansion fees, and league-wide approval votes, for instance) that effectively keep other teams out.
But the barriers to entry serve another purpuse: Las Vegas does not have a team in part because it provides leverage to the few teams left (namely Minnesota and Florida) who are still seeking public money for a new stadium in their existing regions. Proponents for public funding in places like Minneapolis and Miami can haul out Las Vegas as a viable threat point to opponents of public funding, just like Los Angeles is a viable threat point to proponents of public funding for NFL stadiums. Believe it or not, St. Petersburg, Fl, was once used in this manner to get public funding for stadiums such as US Cellular Field (Chicago White Sox). The basic threat is "if you don't give us what we want, we're going to take our ball to Las Vegas and play there."
I had these further thoughts on the economic impact argument for public funding for sports stadiums here at The Sports Economist.