Athletics Las Vegas Ballpark

Stanford professor disputes A's Vegas stadium economic claims

Will the rewards of a new Athletics ballpark outweigh the taxpayer cost? One economic professor says no.

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The Athletics are making plenty of promises as they seek up to $380 million in public funding for their proposed Las Vegas stadium, but will the rewards of a new ballpark outweigh the taxpayer cost?

Roger Noll, professor of economics emeritus at Stanford University, crunched the numbers in an interview with Gabe Lacques of USA TODAY Sports, and the results aren't too promising for Nevada, whose state legislature recently heard the A's official pitch, Senate Bill 509, during a Memorial Day joint committee session.

“Baseball is different than the NFL,” Noll told Lacques of the A's projecting revenue from nearly 2.3 million MLB fans across 81 home games in a season. If you're adding at home, that would mean every game at the proposed 30,000-seat stadium would need to sell out.

“This notion that of those 162 baseball games, I've got to see those three that are between the A's and the Royals in Las Vegas -- it's just nonsense, right? It's not true, it's not going to happen," Noll continued. “That's the fundamental reason why economists, when they do research on the impact of sports teams, typically find that the effect on local incomes and employment is slightly negative.”

During the Memorial Day hearing, the A's presentation estimated a robust economic output, as shared by The Nevada Independent's Tabitha Mueller:

A project's economic impact is one of the most important things for legislators to consider when deciding if a proposed project should move forward or not. Nevada legislature is scheduled to close Monday, meaning a vote on the A's funding bill for their $1.5 billion stadium needs to happen before then, or a special session will be necessary.

Aside from the fact that not every A's home game in the desert would be a sell-out, Allegiant Stadium, the Las Vegas Raiders' home just down the road, likely will snag most big-ticket concerts (the A's estimate five shows per year at their new stadium), while events like the World Baseball Classic and MLB All-Star Game advertised by the A's wouldn't be taking place annually.

And as for the jobs a new ballpark would provide, Noll told Lacques the hours for stadium employees across 81 home games equates to 15 percent of a full-time job.

"So the 500 people who work at the stadium on game day, you got to multiply that by .15 to get the number of full-time equivalent jobs, which means it's less than 100. Wow,” Noll told Lacques. “You know, $1.5 billion to create less than 100 jobs, right? Wow.”

So, yes, there are certain things the A's would bring to Las Vegas, should their public-funding plea for a new stadium be fulfilled -- namely, an MLB team. But just how profitable or beneficial that would be for the citizens helping pay for it doesn't seem too promising based on Noll's remarks.

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