Public financing of stadiums for private teams is common enough now that it’s largely taken for granted, even though these deals rarely produce anything of real value for the municipalities that fund them. How did we reach this point? Has it always been like this? And just how much have we paid for our sports infrastructure?
The map below is an attempt to answer those questions visually. It charts the construction of 186 NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL stadiums from 1909-2012, which covers pretty much all of them. The size of the stadium icon is proportional to the total cost (inflation-adjusted to 2012 dollars), and the color is proportional to the method of financing, with 100 percent private showing up in red, 100 percent public in blue, and a range of purple in between.
I encountered the graph via the Jeffrey S. Moorad Center for the Study of Sports Law at Villanova University, in a study by Tim Kianka entitled “Subsidizing Billionaires: How Your Money is Being Used to Construct Professional Sports Stadiums.”